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Welcome!

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Welcome to the blog page for Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing at the University of Minnesota. Our mission is to prepare students to be successful leaders, educators, and communicators in the agricultural, food, and natural resources career field. We are committed to student success and to helping students achieve their educational and career goals.

We invite you to explore our program on the web, as this site was designed to provide information and resources about the Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communication and Marketing majors. Prospective students and parents are encouraged to contact us with your questions and interest. We look forward to personally meeting you during a campus visit!

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Internship Spotlight: DuPont Pioneer

By: Brandon Zuidema, Agricultural Communication & Marketing Major

Close-up of Brandon wearing a Pioneer hat standing with his face near a Pioneer sign in a corn field

Brandon shows his smile while out in the field with his Pioneer internship.

My internship experience was filled with wonderful learning opportunities, many new relationships, and resounding confirmation of what I want to do once I graduate. I interned with DuPont Pioneer last summer covering southeastern Minnesota and a small portion of northern Minnesota. My role was agronomy and sales, and I was matched with a mentor within the team to be sort of a go to with any questions I had, or if I needed a project or something to do during the week. The internship is very well organized and has a great structure. They start with an orientation at their headquarters for all interns and then also had a more localized one for the Minnesota/Wisconsin team. After those two orientations you are very well set up to succeed and know what is on your plate for the summer. My time was spent doing a long list of things, and no day was the same. There were a few main goals or projects that they had in place for me and the other interns in the area but beyond that we were able to fill our days with things that interested us. Pioneer’s main goal of their internship program is to allow the intern to decide what they want to focus on learning throughout the summer and they work with you to make sure that happens.

Because I was able to have some decision making opportunities throughout the internship, I was able to learn a lot in a short period of time. At the beginning of the internship I sat down with my mentor and we created a list of the goals that I was looking to accomplish as a part of the Pioneer team. I am glad to say I accomplished all those goals and more. One learning opportunity was to take the little agronomy knowledge I had and deepen it. Within the first week I had a few “aha” moments when some term or concept was brought up and I was able to relate it to something I learned in a class I had taken. These moments made me happy knowing the knowledge I have gained over the years was being put to use and even expanded. Another learning point for me was when I was out doing customer work with growers. One of our main projects was to go speak with lost customers and find out why they no longer planted Pioneer seed. At first I was excited about cold calling and working with farmers, but I quickly hit a bump in the road. My excitement quickly faded after the first three calls when I was either told a quick no or the customer yelled at me. I remember having to take a step back and look at the process I was taking. I talked with the employee who was leading the project and she told me to forget those calls and keep doing the great work I was doing. Soon enough I had four meetings set up and my excitement in the project was high again. This project was my first real world experience with sales in agriculture and hearing no over and over. I let in faze me at first but a little pep talk and reflection and I was back on my A game. A final learning opportunity was listening to so many individuals who are around agricultural sales and gathering as much wisdom as possible. I am so glad I met many amazing Pioneer employees who wanted to get to know me, share their story and how they got to where they are, and help me with my future goals.

One key highlight was all the people I got to meet and the relationships that I made. Because I covered a large area there was a large group of people that I was able to be around for my summer. I was around Pioneer sales reps, agronomist, area managers, district managers, and so many other vital employees. This was one goal for my summer, and I am so glad I was able to see so many different sides of the business. Another highlight was meeting other great interns from around the country. I still keep in touch with many of them today and loved hearing how their internship experience was going throughout the summer. Also throughout the summer I was able to visit places that play various roles within Pioneer. I went to a research site as well as a production plant. These are things that we interns wanted to do and because of the freedom Pioneer gives us we were able to. We got tours through the whole facility and were able to take as much time as we wanted to ask questions and see how the processes worked. A final experience I want to share is being able to grow not only in my agricultural skills but also personally and as a leader. There were many opportunities to reflect on my experience and talk with individuals who could share what they thought I excelled at and also what I could work on. Everyone I interacted with truly cared about my success in the future even if it wasn’t with Pioneer. I am so grateful for my summer experience with Pioneer and would highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internship Spotlight: Wisconsin Holstein Association

By: Krista Styer, Agricultural Communication & Marketing

This summer, my internship was at the Wisconsin Holstein Association located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I was responsible for many things throughout the summer, such as managing district and state Holstein shows across Wisconsin, writing articles for the Wisconsin Holstein News, attending events with the Wisconsin Holstein Association, and most importantly, planning the 2017 Wisconsin Holstein Association Futurity. There are nine district Holstein shows in Wisconsin, and they all happen within a week and a half time frame. I attended six of them, and the other intern and staff covered the other three. We would typically have one intern and one staff member at each show. For managing the district shows, there was a lot of work that I did prior to the shows. I had to update all of the show materials and forms from the year prior, make copies of all of the information to send to each district show chair, and coordinate showmanship contest details with the Junior Activity Committee chairs. I also had to prepare the list of members who hadn’t paid their yearly Wisconsin Holstein Association dues yet. When we got to the shows, I would help check cattle in, give exhibitors their back tags for showing, answer questions that exhibitors had about the show, help run the show the day of, and take photos during the show. I would also have to update the show catalog with any entry changes the night before the show. I had the opportunity to interview some Wisconsin Holstein members and write articles about them for the Wisconsin Holstein News. One specific event that I attended with the Wisconsin Holstein Association this summer was when we brought a Holstein cow and calf to the local public library in Baraboo. This was for a day at the library where kids could come and learn about dairy animals and agriculture. There were many elements that went into planning the Futurity show, which will be discussed later in the blog post.

Krista Styer standing in front of the Wisconsin Holstein Association building in the summer

Krista smiles proudly outside the Wisconsin Holstein Association during her internship

This summer at my internship I learned a multitude of important things. One of the most memorable things I learned was how to be more assertive in a job position rather than passive. In the beginning of my internship, I often found that I was doubting my abilities and not making decisions when given the chance. Throughout my time in Baraboo at WHA, I learned how to make decisions and stand by them, and how to be more assertive with my opinions and ideas at the office while still remaining kind and respectful. Another key thing that I learned this summer is how to effectively deal with conflict. While at shows collecting late membership fees from Wisconsin Holstein members, members sometimes didn’t want to comply with paying their late fees. At first I found it difficult to approach people and tell them that they had to pay if they wanted to show their cattle the next day, but after a few encounters, I had started to learn a better way to go about a situation such as this. While trying to manage shows and collect late fees, I also found that some people would doubt my abilities because I was “just the intern.” I found myself becoming frustrated when the members wouldn’t trust me because I had already been to multiple shows and knew what my duties were as an intern at that point. I learned that it was best to not get upset at the members who accused me of not knowing what I was doing, and instead show them that I was capable of the task at hand and more. At the end of a show, it was satisfying for me to know that I completed my tasks carefully and accurately even though I was “just the intern.”

One final key thing that I learned this summer was how to live three hours away from home. Having been at college for two years already, you would think that I would know how to be away from home. While this is true, I wasn’t used to being away from home during the summer. During the summer is when I work with my show animals, catch up with my high school friends, and work on my family’s dairy farm. Admittedly, it was difficult for me to be away from a lot of my favorite things for three months. I would come home to visit every so often, but that was very different from getting to work on my family’s farm and work with my dairy show heifers every day. Once I learned how to live away from all of my favorite summer things, life in Baraboo for the summer was great. I lived with a wonderful host family who often showed me around the Baraboo area and let me help out on their family’s dairy farm. I had a great internship that allowed me to do things that I loved every day. Also, I had the opportunity to create a whole new network of contacts all over the state of Wisconsin. After I settled into my new Baraboo lifestyle, I realized that it was just different than what I was used to.

Some of my key experiences this summer at the Wisconsin Holstein Association included taking pictures at shows, planning the Futurity show, bringing a cow and calf to a library, and designing programs and other graphic design elements for the Wisconsin Holstein Association. While at shows, my supervisors let me take charge with the camera and take photos from the beginning to the end. It wasn’t uncommon for me to end up with at least a few hundred photos from each show to post on Facebook. This was such a key experience for me because I absolutely love photography, and my supervisors recognized that and let me work in my preferred area at the shows, as well as getting experience with the other management parts of a district Holstein show. One of my proudest accomplishments of the summer was planning the 31st Annual WHA Futurity show. Over the course of the summer, I contacted caterers, ordered the judge’s tux, coordinated volunteers for the show, found convertibles to use for the grand entrance of the officials at the show, attended Futurity committee meetings, designed the show programs, contacted exhibitors about their entries, contacted sponsors about prize money, and coordinated things on the day of the show . I spent the whole summer planning this event, so when everything went so smoothly on the day of the show, it made all of my hard work worth it. One of the most fun days at work was when we brought a cow and calf to the local library in Baraboo. The morning started out with stories in the library read by the Wisconsin Holstein Royalty. The stories were about agriculture and the dairy industry, and it was great to see so many children show up to learn about agriculture. After the stories were done, the kids got to go outside to see the cow and calf. They were able to pet them and learn more about dairy animals. It was awesome to see children so excited about agriculture. My final key experience from my summer internship experience was the opportunities that I had to design things, such as graphics for Facebook posts or the programs for the Futurity. I really enjoy creating things and using my artistic talents in that way, so I was glad to be able to have the chance to electronically design some things this summer.

Internship Spotlight: Kandiyohi County 4-H

By: Ashley Warren, Agricultural Communication & Marketing Major

Ashley Warren stands in front of the Growmobile van with a group of kids

Ashley stands with kids as they show off their projects in from the the Growmobile

A summer filled with fun and laughter; just what everyone wants.  Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to be the 4-H summer intern in Kandiyohi County.  After being involved in this organization for the past 13 years of my life, I really wanted to see what it took to make a 4-H a success. I had the amazing opportunity to go to local libraries on Tuesdays, the YMCA on Thursday, and ride along in The Growmobile Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Growmobile is a bus from the Salvation Army and United Way that stops at different parks in Willmar and to teach kids about various topics and to read book or complete projects with them. At these sites I got to make S’mores using solar power, make butter, grow gardens, and so much more.

On top of all of this, I also had the opportunity to run our county’s Livestock Quality Assurance and Ethics Training, assist with finding judges for the county fair, run the “Show of Showman” contest, organize the livestock auction, provide a schedule and activities for local day cares that attended the fair, and help anyone in the office who needed help with a project.

Coming into this internship, I thought it was only preparing for the county fair and expected to do tasks such as packing judge’s boxes, mailing out information to judges and members, etc.  While I did do all of this, my experience involved much more. Each county is very different in how they do things and how much they do. Kandiyohi County focused a lot on after-school and summer programming. Every Thursday at the YMCA was “4-H Day,” and the kids knew that and were so excited to see what kind of fun project we were going to do next. This really helped get the word out about 4-H.

One of the biggest lessons I learned last summer was that not everything goes as planned. Because I spent a majority of my summer programming outside, the weather did not always cooperate. For example, making S’mores using solar power when it is cloudy for half of the day wasn’t a huge success. Or when your support staff has a sick child on the last county fair registration day, you stay in the office to answer phone calls and emails. Adjusting day by day was a huge thing for myself and the rest of the office. Communication and time management were other lessons that came into play for me this summer. Planning out my day and having morning meetings with the rest of the staff to let each other know what was going to get done when that day was something I needed to hold myself accountable for doing my part in the project.

There were so many highlights from this summer, but one of the biggest ones was by far seeing the smiling kids when they learned something new or when their boat held the most pennies in the contest. Because I spent one day of the week with all these kids, they would come back with stories the next time I was there to tell or show me what they did with their families at home, and to me that was the best feeling in the world. Leaving an impression on these kids was something I will cherish for the longest time. I also think that the people you work with are a huge part with not only enjoying the work place but also your success in that job. I had the opportunity to work with so many people outside my assigned office that I now have too many connections to count. And seeing those 4-H members succeed at the county and state fair by the end of the summer was a great feeling as well. My advice for anyone is to try and give back to an organization that has impacted you. I did and it was incredible!

Internship Spotlight: Minnesota Hemp Farms

By: Joshua Muñoz, Agricultural Communication & Marketing Major

Joshua Munoz at a sample table

Joshua shares samples of industrial hemp products at a local store.

My internship at Minnesota Hemp Farms (MHF) was a unique experience and definitely the highlight of my summer. During the semester of Spring 2017, I took an early field experience class. This course helped me get connected with John Strohfus, the CEO of MHF. John first established the company in 2016 where he became the first certified Minnesota farmer under the 2014 Farm Bill to grow industrial hemp since the 1950s.

I began the summer internship on June 5, the first day of Hemp History Week. During that first week, John taught me how to drive a disk tractor, and for the first time in my life I felt like a real farmer, tilling the soil to plant industrial hemp. After tilling and planting, John and I began the planning process in developing strategies for the marketing and sales teams. Because the farm had been growing rapidly over the summer, we established social media sites for the brand “Field Theory” and brought in industrial hemp products into co-ops like Spiral Foods in Hastings and The Wedge in Minneapolis. MHF now sells the first industrial hemp products grown and produced in the state of Minnesota.

The main reasons why I enjoyed being part of this industry are learning the benefits of hemp for human nutrition, the environment, and the economy. To me, hemp is the most sustainable plant in the world and can be used to make our foods more nutritious, to make longer-lasting clothes, to make biodegradable plastic and save trees, and to treat many serious conditions.

Internship Spotlight: Minnesota Pork Board

By: Paige Hildebrandt, Agricultural Communication & Marketing Major

A gloved Paige Hildebrandt poses with a piece of pork loin on a toothpick near colleagues at a local festival

Paige Hildebrandt gives out samples of pork loin during her internship

What’s better than talking to people about pigs and pig farming, connecting with farmers from across the state, and preparing tasty pork loin samples for people at Twins games, town festivities, and so much more? You can try to convince me otherwise, but my summer as one of the Minnesota Pork Board Interns was one to remember. The Minnesota Pork Board is a mandatory checkoff organization for the pig farmers of Minnesota. For every $100 in value of pigs sold to market, Minnesota Pork Board receives 40 cents. These funds are used to promote their main goals which are to fund research, engage in education, and promote pork products. Located in Mankato, the Minnesota Pork Board has two summer interns every year that help conduct public relations and communications tasks throughout the summer. This past summer I was lucky enough to be selected as one of those interns.

To say this summer went by in a flash is an extreme understatement. From driving across the state attending town festivals and facilitating Oink Outings to attending stakeholder meetings and connecting with farmers, my four-month internship went by in a flash. As a communications and public relation intern, I spent about half of my time working on communications pieces such as stories for the newsletters or infographics and the other half was spent out in the public talking to consumers about pork and pig farming.  Although I could spend hours talking about the variety of experiences I had, there is one experience that impacted me this summer.

rather than to be understood first, and this is a lesson that I will carry with me in my personal and professional career going forward. 

In its eighth year, the Oink Outing program is an outreach activity where pig farmers from across the state volunteer to go to town festivals, farmers markets, zoos, and other events around Minnesota and share their pig farming story. The main goal of the program is to answer any questions consumers have about pig farming, pigs, or pork. Putting a face to a pig farmer and engaging in an open and informal conversation about what we do as pig farmers allows us to gain the trust of our consumers and help clear up any misconceptions that consumers may have about our industry. Having attended over 15 of these events this summer, I not only learned how to engage in conversation with consumers, but also how to listen to consumers concerns and have real candid conversations about what I do on my farm every day. Although we were approached by a few animal activists, vegans, or people against food animal production, most of the people we talked to were simply curious and excited to learn about where their bacon came from. I learned not to assume that the consumer was against my profession but rather enter the conversation with an open mind and allow them to lead the conversation to as in-depth or simple as they wanted. I learned to seek to understand 

 

Although this internship requires commitment, I can say wholeheartedly that I learned more and grew more this summer than I hadin past internships. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is willing to be pushed out of their comfort zone and wants to learn more about the pork industry and the fantastic people who are a part of it.