Interning with NASDA has been an incomparable experience, and, as a policy intern this fall, I have grown personally and professionally quite considerably. Right from the start, everyone in the office made an effort to welcome me to the team, even though I started during the hectic month leading up to the NASDA annual meeting. Leading up to the meeting, I learned the crash course version of different policy areas and pitched in where I could with meeting preparation tasks. This meeting itself was certainly a highlight of my internship. Spending the week in New York surrounded by an incredible amount of agricultural knowledge in a beautiful area was a surreal experience. NASDA members and affiliates gathered to discuss everything agriculture from avian influenza mitigation to international trade to educational outreach, and I felt so blessed to sit in on these discussions and meet people that I hold in high esteem.
After returning from New York, we continued the season in a sprint. The Tri-National Agricultural Accord was the next significant event for the policy team. To prepare for this, I had the pleasure of working on the delegate handbook, including background information on trade between the involved countries and the issues of discussion. It was an unique learning opportunity to witness firsthand the nuances of international coordination.
Besides the two major events, I thoroughly enjoyed attending listening sessions, hearings, and working group meetings. Topics included food safety, pesticide regulation, market access, sustainability, rural development and others. Each organization NASDA engages with brings something unique to the table, and I appreciate NASDA’s bipartisan and collaborative approach to issues in agriculture.
Both assigned projects and event planning shifted my perspective to a more holistic view of agriculture and strengthened my communication and analytical skills. NASDA also tailored my internship experience to my interests. With a background in dairy and an interest in sustainability, my manager, Rebecca Barnett, made sure to throw projects my way that I was curious in and aligned with NASDA’s priorities.
The work was eye-opening, but the culture of NASDA is what really made this internship meaningful. The NASDA staff consistently made me feel valued, and my biggest takeaway is that people here genuinely want others to succeed. Their encouragement, advice, and Purdue football updates (Boiler up!) made for an irreplaceable experience. The diverse and close-knit community that make up the NASDA team has such a strong commitment to their work, and this ethic makes me all the more excited to be a part of the future of agriculture.