Growing up on a Virginia sheep and cattle farm with two veterinarians as parents made me realize early on that what goes on in the rooms of policymakers has real effects for the boots-on-the-ground of the industry. From working on cattle farms to grain elevators to pesticide cooperatives, I have seen how policy can affect prices, usage of products and public opinion. After working in these areas, I wanted to gain experience in and understanding of exactly what the policymaking process is.

I consider myself most fortunate to have served as the Spring 2024 policy intern for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. When I was first introduced to NASDA as a member of the 2023 class of NASDA’s Next Generation, I was swiftly drawn to their commitment to the advancement of the agricultural industry and their emphasis on addressing issues in a non-partisan manner. At that time, I realized that if I was to enter the agricultural policy arena, it would be through NASDA. There were fewer things more exciting in 2023 than getting the internship offer to spend the spring in our nation’s capital.

During the past four months, I have been incredibly lucky to learn from such a knowledgeable policy team covering nearly every aspect of agriculture.  I am especially thankful for the team creating a welcoming environment, disabusing me of common assumptions about agricultural policy and allowing me to get involved in their respective issues. It is certainly an exciting time to be an intern in Washington, D.C., and I am grateful to learn from the team interacting with issues such as the February dicamba registration vacation, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in dairy cattle, and fiscal year 2025 appropriations (to name a few). I am also grateful for the team allowing me to sit in on meetings with international diplomats and congressional staffers. These meetings did much to expand my network and were some of the most informative parts of my internship. Aside from pure policy, I also had the opportunity to assist in operations during NASDA’s 2024 Winter Policy Conference. Getting the experience of working behind-the-scenes was enlightening, and I will certainly be prepared for those types of events later in my career.

As the semester draws to a close, my only regret is that I could not stay longer. I am immensely more enlightened in my interest areas of international trade, disease regulations, and pesticides than I was before arriving. As stated before, it’s an exciting time to be an intern in Washington, D.C. Although I must return to South Dakota State University to finish my degree in agricultural economics, I fully intend to return to this arena to provide a voice in fighting for the industry I grew up (and still live) in.

I cannot offer enough gratitude to RJ, Stephanie, Josie and Becky for giving me this opportunity and being gracious stewards on the policy team. I will never cease using their wisdom as I navigate my own career path.

Contact Information

Sarah Grace Fowler
Director, Communications