Internship Spotlight: Wright County 4-H

By: Amber Cafferty, U of M Student


Managing a county fair registration desk

This past summer, I had the opportunity to be a 4-H Intern in Wright County, Minnesota. During this internship, I learned more about what it takes to provide 4-H members an exceptional experience. Throughout the summer, I was challenged to gain experience and a better understanding of 4-H through the eyes of extension staff by planning and executing day camps, preparing for and working at the county fair, and connecting with 4-H members throughout the county.

One of the most memorable parts of this internship was the opportunity to plan and execute six day camps for children in grades K-5 and two science camps for children in grades 4-6. I was in charge of creating an engaging day filled with fun and educational activities that could interest a diverse age group. Camp themes throughout the summer included Wild West, Drones, and Animal Science, and at each camp we created crafts and activities related to the topic. Some of the fun activities we did included making ice cream when we learned about dairy cows and giving each camp participant the opportunity to learn about and fly drones. These camps were very gratifying, as I have attended many camps in the past, but being on the opposite side and planning the camps was a completely new experience for me.

Interacting with so many different 4-H members and building a connection with many of them over the summer was a very rewarding experience. It was amazing to see the youth develop within the program and gain numerous skills and memories during the short time I had with them. This internship gave me the chance to better understand the dynamics and day-to-day work of a 4-H program coordinator and staff, and I cannot thank Wright County 4-H and the community enough for the amazing summer that they gave me.


Internship Spotlight: Seneca Foods Corporation

By: Alex Broderius, U of M Student

Last summer, I had the pleasure of interning at Seneca Foods Corporation as a Field Representative Intern. Although the company’s main office is in Glencoe, I could leave from home every day and head to my area of work, which was Olivia, and westward. My duties included sampling and staking corn and pea fields in the mornings to monitor the timeframe leading to harvest. I would also perform node counts on peas and stand counts on sweet corn for Seneca’s records of each variety. The most important of my duties was preparing fields for harvest. To do this, I contacted farmers to let them know the harvest crew was coming, the fuel supplier to ensure the harvesters were full for their 24-hour shift, and mark approaches to the field that would be used by trucks.

These tasks provided many chances to learn. The stand and node counts taught me more about the agronomy behind the crops’ rate of growth. Staking and sampling helped me understand how the lay of the land, soil type, and drainage practices determined how well fields would mature and yield. Interacting with employees from all sectors of Seneca Foods helped me adapt my communication style to their needs. For example, I would communicate in a more leisurely way to farmers in the field, but would converse more directly when describing fields to colleagues in the office who hadn’t seen the field. Harvesting problems relied on efficient communication, which I developed from handling many difficulties with multiple individuals. I truly believe that everything I learned will be very relevant in class and future careers.

My internship included many highlights from the field. Getting to observe harvest every day for the second half of my internship always brought something new and interesting. Sometimes the operators would even let me ride along in the pickers and see the struggles of flooding in the field firsthand. On slower days, I would spend time around the fields during harvest and talk to other field representatives that have been with the company 20+ years. They always had interesting stories, and shared the overall history of Seneca Foods. The most memorable highlight was my tour of the plant! I saw the field side of things all summer, but never got to see how the produce was canned until the end of my internship. I had access to something that most of Seneca’s growers had never seen. This topped off a great summer at Seneca Foods Corporation.


Internship Spotlight: New Fashion Pork

By: Ellyn Swanson, U of M Senior

As I sat down and looked over the list of projects I was to complete at the beginning of my internship, I quickly became overwhelmed and thought, “How in the world will I ever get this all done?” But, as I reflect on my experience as an intern for New Fashion Pork (NFP), I do not know why I was ever worried in the first place.

As the Communications Project Intern, I was based out of the NFP headquarters in Jackson, Minnesota. I primarily worked with the Human Resources Department and many members of the Production Staff. My work focused on editing, revising, and reformatting projects that many NFP employees use on a daily basis. I first started by updating company-wide job descriptions and the NFP Employee Handbook, and then moved on to designing recruiting materials and constructing an Employee Satisfaction survey. On the Production side, I edited, reformatted, and redesigned the NFP Growing Pig, NFP Sow Farm, OFP Growing Pig, and OFP Sow Farm manuals, in addition to the Employee Production Reference and Service Production Reference. I became best friends with Microsoft Word, but found my work to be very fulfilling and enjoyable as I realized how many NFP employees truly used the projects I updated.

In addition to working in the NFP office, I also got to spend time out in the field with members of the Production Staff. I spent one day with a Weaned Pig Specialist, receiving two loads of weaned pigs, in addition to spending a day at the NFP Minnesota Sow Farm (Freking Sow Farm). I also had the opportunity to weigh a turn of NFP’s research pigs, and spend a day with the NFP Trainer as he trained in new Grow to Finish employees. NFP also sent me to several leadership conferences: the Minnesota Pork Social Media and Public Relations Training, and the Young Leaders in Agriculture Conference. With these conferences, I grew both as a professional within the agriculture industry, and also as an individual.

While I did not know much about the swine industry prior to my internship with New Fashion Pork, I could not be more grateful for the opportunities they presented me with that helped me diversify my knowledge of the agricultural industry. Because of their management style, I strongly developed my time management, communication, trustworthiness, and independence skills, in addition to many more, which I feel has tremendously prepared me for a career after graduation. NFP is a very family-oriented company, and throughout my whole internship experience, the work that every employee does, is done for the betterment of the company as a whole, and that is what makes me so proud to be a part of the agricultural industry.

Ellyn Swanson blog photo

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)