Written by Hayley Fernandes
Flexibility is the name of the game. This phrase was said to me in more of a jovial manner at the start of my internship, but as time progressed, it definitely turned into the mantra of the summer. This summer, because of COVID-19, has taught me so much about personal flexibility and the ability to give others grace when needing to be flexible.
This internship was my first in person experience, and I was more than thrilled when I got the call that NASDA was going back into the office mid-summer. I appreciated the flexibility that allowed me to move in the middle of the summer and pick up where things had left off virtually. Spending five weeks in person with the staff, who were all so welcoming and kind, was most definitely a highlight of the experience. This summer, my primary goal was to network, which proved to be a bit challenging with limited social events and the world trying to figure out if things were going back in person or not. The policy team, however, was fantastic in supporting my goal and helped connect me to a number of individuals in D.C. I was able to more closely experience what a pre-covid internship would have looked like, an experience I will be forever grateful for.
Coming from a dairy background, NASDA helped open my eyes to a variety of issues that I was not as well-versed in. This was accomplished through research projects and attending calls and hearings on areas such as Delta-8 Hemp, critical habitats, Water of the United States, meat processing and the U.S. food system. Additionally, I was able to independently contribute to NASDA’s WOTUS policy portfolio. This assignment required me to dive deeper into the issue than I had before and the experience will stick with me as I return to school.
My time at NASDA has had a profound impact on my professional and academic goals moving forward. I thoroughly appreciated the time spent with all staff members, especially NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn and the policy team who answered a myriad of questions relating to grad/law school, resumes, cover letters and more. These conversations have truly helped me set the stage as I enter my final year of undergraduate studies at California Polytechnic State University.
This experience has only reinvigorated my excitement for my future–a future that hopefully includes coming back to D.C. I have my time with NASDA to thank for further exposing me to agricultural policy and reaffirming my passion for the agriculture industry.