Ten years ago, I was fortunate to visit our nation’s capital as a preteen. Along with 40 other eager 4-Her’s in our green polo shirts, we boarded a bus from Iowa heading east, destination… Washington D.C. Fast forward to January 2020, I find myself once again in our nation’s capital. This time not as an awe struck young tourist. This time a member of the professional agriculture working world as an intern at Animal Agriculture Alliance.
LET’S REWIND THINGS A BIT…
Since birth agriculture has been the cultivating part (no pun intended) of my life. I grew up spending days on my grandparents’ crop and livestock farm in rural northeast Iowa. I am not sure if I fell in love with agriculture or if it was the fact it was always the central part of my family’s life. Choosing Iowa State University as my college seemed like the obvious choice. The areas of study within the College of Agriculture were endless. I was unsure and struggling where I fit into the world of ag. My path of collegiate study was suddenly sure and exciting the second I stepped off a plane in Ireland…
I fell in love with the world & Global agriculture
It was the summer of 2016 and I had just returned from my first study abroad experience in Ireland. Here, I not only got my first taste of Guinness, but also a taste of horticulture in a foreign country. Being able to study and experience agriculture on a global scale sparked an intense interest within me and I had found my direction of study at ISU. After Ireland, I needed to keep traveling, learning and growing within the global agriculture sector. But where….? I packed my bags again and found my way to Philipps University in Marburg, Germany to study for a semester. It was here, I fell in love with the culture, agricultural practices, and language of Deutschland.
After an amazing experience, I came back to Iowa and my first thought was, “where am I going to study and explore next?” This was NOT what my parents wanted to hear. But, I was hooked on international studies and travel. My two European experiences made me realize how small our world was. It also made me realize how different yet how similar agriculture is practiced around the globe. My college major at this time was still international agriculture, that is until I traveled to Uganda…
A life changing experience
In the spring of 2018, I packed my now well-worn suitcase once again. However, this time I did not pack warm cardigans and wool scarves for Europe, I packed colorful headbands and sunscreen for a trip to Kamuli, the poorest district in Uganda. Here, I stayed and worked at the newly opened Iowa State University Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. I thought I had an understanding of what it would be like to live in a developing country from movies and internet searches. But until I stood amongst young mothers with babies strapped to their backs as they tended an uncooperative garden plot, did I fully understand what agriculture is in a third world country.
Since 2003, ISU has been working with local Ugandans in the Kumali district to implement sustainable solutions to meet the needs of the young mothers and children. Before Iowa State University’s presence, school children were only receiving 50 calories for their daily school lunch. Now the students receive 650 calories every other meal.
I now knew I wanted to change the focus of my studies at college. I switched to a major called Global Resource Systems (GRS), which is focusing on studying how the world uses its limited resources in a sustainable way, primarily related to agriculture. Along with GRS, I also studied agriculture communications. Here I saw firsthand all the misconceptions of agriculture in the media. I knew I wanted to be the bridge in the agriculture communication gap.
How did i end up at the Animal Agriculture Alliance?
I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degrees from Iowa State in GRS and agriculture communications. After I had my diploma in hand, I once again flew to Germany, but this time for an internship. I was ready to utilize my German language skills from two years of classes. I was an agricultural research intern at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart in the organic agriculture department. The University of Hohenheim is the largest agriculture university in Germany and a global leader in agricultural research.
Coming from a traditional Midwest farming background, I was intrigued to experience a sector of ag that was unfamiliar. After completing this German internship, I returned to Iowa and applied for an internship within animal agriculture at the Alliance. Learning more about livestock production interests me because it is such a crucial area of agriculture. I have now been interning with the Alliance for two weeks. Being here I have learned the livestock industry plays an important role not only domestically, but on a global scale. The contacts I have made already will assist me in my own personal journey as a young professional woman in the field of agriculture.
I have recently accepted a full-time position with Corteva Agriscience back in Des Moines. I am sad to be leaving the Alliance so soon, but am thankful for the insight and experiences I gained in this short time. As I prepare for another new journey within the field of agriculture, I thank Iowa agriculture for being the anchor of my success and opportunities.
All posts are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of the Animal Ag Alliance.