Internship Spotlight: Minnesota Grown

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!

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!

Kristin Liepold photo


Internship Spotlight: Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health (UMASH) Center

By Alexis Murillo, U of M Third Year Student

At the beginning of January, I had the opportunity to begin a new experience as a Communications Specialist Intern for the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health (UMASH) Center. Within this internship position, I was responsible for curating content for social media posts, creating and maintaining an editorial calendar, reviewing and summarizing both daily and monthly social media analytics, participating in weekly communication team meetings, and working collaboratively with the outreach and communications team. Although there were other duties I completed during my internship, these tasks seemed to be the most significant to my growth, learning, and position overall.

Although I had previous experience curating content for other organization’s social media platforms, UMASH was different. I taught myself how to properly engage UMASH stakeholders and the general public through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Additionally, I had to determine the best way to expand the online reach and engagement of UMASH through different trial and error methods.

As I  reflect upon my experience with UMASH, there were three areas in which I feel as though I have significantly grown: collaboration, communication, and personal development. Essentially, this internship experience allowed me to collaborate with others across the United States, learn how to better communicate with others based on their communication styles, and understand more about what I want for a future career. Furthermore, I was able to take what was taught inside the classroom in courses such as AFEE 1001 and 2421 and apply the learned information to my internship, which was incredibly rewarding. As a result, being a Communications Specialist Intern for UMASH allowed me to enhance my skill set and well as expand it by learning new “tricks of the trade.” Much of the internship was trial and error, but having the support of the UMASH team made it an easier process.

Aside from being able to use my creativity for a new social media post each day, one of the major highlights of my internship experience was being able to network with others at Ag Awareness Day on Northrop Plaza. This experience allowed me speak to many students on the University of Minnesota East Bank campus who were not familiar with UMASH and agriculture in general. During Ag Awareness Day, I explained the mission of UMASH and asked people to fill out a survey to see how much they knew about agricultural health and safety. It was interesting to see how much knowledge everyone had in regards to the survey topic and how intrigued they were with our organization. Another highlight of my internship with UMASH was being able to create content for two major social media campaigns, “Beat the Heat” and “Agritourism.” I took pride in seeing the posts come to life when people would share them on their own social media pages because I knew I played a role in creating the content. For me, those were the most rewarding experiences during my internship with UMASH.

Alexis Murillo Blog Post Photo (AFEE 3096)

Internship Spotlight: UW Discovery Farms

By: Savannah Williams, U of M Student

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work with UW Discovery Farms, doing outreach and research. Discovery Farms is an organization that works with farmers throughout Wisconsin on the relationship between agriculture and water quality. Although this was my second summer with Discovery Farms, I had the chance to further my experience and try new things.

During the course of my internship, I served as the project coordinator for our stream and lake sampling. I made the schedule of when we were going to take samples, and then I put the data into our system. I also focused on designing outreach materials for social media, events, flyers and emails, and created videos of various staff, places and projects.

Working with Discovery Farms, I had a lot of great experiences and opportunities. I was able try new things, even if I was not comfortable with the tasks at first. For example, I attended Farm Tech Days to volunteer in the education tent. I was unfamiliar with my assigned station, but after talking with the person who was in charge I was able to take what I learned from him and share with people who were interested in my station. I don’t think that is something I would have done last summer!

I also really enjoyed being a part of the June Water Tours. I was able to help with the planning and outreach, and I also had the opportunity to talk with people from different organizations and learn from them. At the end of my summer, I was able to plan more events – many of which were more challenging to plan, as we weren’t partnered with other organizations. To plan those types of events took a lot of traveling, calling and organization to make sure we were prepared. I liked planning the events because they posed a purpose to others and allowed them to learn about Discovery Farms, soil, and water. I can say that all my summer goals were successfully met, and I have grown as an individual because of this experience!

Savannah Williams photo

In this photo, I am taking a stream sample in one of the four streams in the Jersey Valley Watershed. The stream samples are taken and then sent to Madison where the lab tests for phosphorous and other nutrients.

Internship Spotlight: DTN/The Progressive Farmer

By: Emily Dehn, U of M Student

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Social Media Intern for a company called DTN/The Progressive Farmer, or “DTN” for short. DTN is a multi-faceted company — something I learned quickly in my first few days on the job! DTN has four main “silos” in the organization: Agriculture, Weather, Commodities, and Refined Fuels. I spent my internship working in the ag division, where DTN provides services and insights to two groups, producers and agribusinesses. Since I worked on the social media side, my summer was spent focusing on producers.

During my three months with DTN, I was able to accomplish a variety of tasks. The main goal of my internship was to deepen my knowledge of the agricultural industry while simultaneously broadening my experience with communications in the professional world. When my internship was in full swing, I was in charge of reading the content published by our newsroom, summarizing articles, finding graphics, creating posts (for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and scheduling the content to be posted. I also completed several large scale projects including a social media competitive analysis, a business case for Instagram, and a trends calendar. I was also lucky enough to travel for my internship, both to the company office in Omaha and to FarmFest 2017. My experience this past summer exceeded my expectations tenfold.

The most beneficial thing I gained this summer through my work at DTN was professional experience. I learned first-hand what it’s like to work in a corporate setting. I presented to company executives, attended meetings, went on business trips, and so much more. I was able to reinforce my belief that I am a skilled communicator, and I learned that one area I can improve on is prioritizing my work from day to day. This summer was stressful at times, but it also was very encouraging. Through my professional experience in the field, I now know that I truly do want to continue to study Agricultural Communication & Marketing. Not to mention, getting paid to do something you love is pretty cool!

Looking back, if there’s one piece of advice I’d give to those who haven’t completed an internship yet, it’s the following: APPLY, APPLY, APPLY, and be open to whatever comes your way! Early in my sophomore year at the U, I had my heart set on a particular internship. I advanced through the interview process, but didn’t end up getting the job. I was feeling deflated; however, I received an email from my advisor late in the spring semester about a position with DTN — a position I would end up securing in May. It was a great learning experience for me. Keep your eyes open, your head up, and always be open to try new things!


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Internship Spotlight: Carver County 4-H

By: Alyssa Groskopf, U of M Junior

This summer, I interned with the Minnesota 4-H Program for Carver County 4-H. Each county is slightly different in respect to what projects their interns complete, and in Carver, I had many projects that were specific to working with young kids. I went to daycare centers every week to teach children about gardening and nutrition, planned and executed day camps with STEM-based activities, and brought different livestock species and coinciding food lessons to summer school programs. My other main projects included helping prepare for the Carver County Fair, emailing the 4-H database for volunteers, finding judges for and executing the Premier Showmanship Contest, and planning the Fashion Revue event. In addition to those projects, it was my responsibility to help anyone in the office that needed assistance in completing a project.

This internship gave me many opportunities to develop my professional skill set. One of the main skills I developed this summer was multitasking/time management. With 4-H, it seems like there are constantly ten different programs and activities going on, back to back!  I found that the best way to keep track of tasks was to create a mini schedule for myself with set deadlines, to make sure that I didn’t fall behind. I needed to hold myself accountable for getting all of my activities planned and ready to go before the deadlines. I also instructed the camp counselors on how to run activities, as I was a monitor at the camps.  I occasionally taught an activity or two, but my main responsibility was to prepare lesson plans for the counselors.

During this internship, I also learned the importance of using my voice. At the beginning of the summer, I was too nervous to say anything because I thought that it wasn’t my place. But soon I learned to be confident in my ideas. The worst that can happen is someone says “no.”

The highlight of my summer was being able to contribute to the success of the 2017 Carver County Fair. During that week, there were many different challenges I faced, from parents who were unhappy about their child’s placing to technology trouble in the office. I got to experience a little bit of everything! Even though I was nervous at the beginning of the week, I found that I was able to handle just about any problem at the end.

The most satisfying part of my internship was to see so many different sides of the youth that I got to work with over the course of the summer. I got to know quite a few of them very well, and by the time we got to the county fair, I was able to learn even more about them. I was surprised that I could see how much THEY had changed over the summer, coinciding with the growth that I experienced. The confidence of some of the kids at the start of the summer was low, and by the end of the summer they were telling me all about their accomplishments during the fair and how excited they were to move on to the State Fair.

Alyssa Groskopf photo