By: Kristin Liepold, U of M Student
This past spring, summer and school year, I had the opportunity to intern with Minnesota Grown, a program through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. This partnership has been promoting local foods from Minnesota farmers for over thirty years. Minnesota Grown does advertising, promotional items, social media and monthly consumer e-newsletters, offers cost-share programs, and attends and sponsors conferences throughout the year. In addition, Minnesota Grown is working on eight consumer surveys throughout the next two years.
Perhaps the biggest project the organization produces is the Minnesota Grown Directory. The 2017 edition boasted 1,031 producers from across the state. We printed 155,000 copies and expect to go through a majority. Minnesota Grown also has an online directory where each member has a page with photos, contact information, description, and a map. Each member generally gets a minimum of 200 views per year. The Minnesota Grown website as a whole receives 300,000 unique visitors annually.
Throughout my internship, I have gained writing, social media and website design skills. I’ve assisted with the two e-newsletters Minnesota Grown distributes each month (one of them is consumer-focused, and the other is member-focused). I’ve also been able to write press releases, association articles, and small news pieces for the website. Social media is something that I love, and I hope to utilize my skills in my career. Each week, I dug into Facebook Insights and looked at Boosted Post analytics, demographics, time of day, post structure, and geographics – and we created an action plan for Minnesota Grown based on these results. In addition, web design is something that I did not know I was interested in until I learned how to operate the website. My coworker Danielle is an expert in this, and she has begun to teach me about plug-ins, coding, and features. Check out minnesotagrown.com!
My biggest project during the internship involved the Minnesota State Fair. I organized the booth, gathered the volunteers, bought the produce, and corresponded with volunteers, staff, and our mail room to ensure everything went smoothly. I also had the responsibility to travel to several farms to learn about them, their operation, their history, and how we can continue to help them. Through these visits, I learned so much about vegetable production, hops, meat, cheesemaking, wine, and so much more.
I would not trade this internship for anything. I have truly learned about Minnesota agriculture, professionalism, and the program as a whole!