Internship with Moo U Livestock Tours

By Alexandra Lavy
Agricultural Communication major

This summer I had the opportunity to work with an amazing and unique company, Moo U Guided Livestock Tours.  Moo U was created in 2007 by Cal Poly alumna Jeannene Xanthus. Each summer, the company, based out of Celeste, Texas, is hired by fairs all over the country to give free educational tours of the livestock at the fair.

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The purpose of Moo U is to inform people about livestock, from how the animals are raised, to all the ways that animal byproducts are used in our lives.  Our presence at the fairs provides the opportunity to communicate with regular, everyday consumers, and explain where food comes from.  As an Agricultural Communication major, I love that I’m able to be a voice and educate the public about the livestock industry.  We focused on several main production animals including dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits.

During my internship, I worked at three different fairs: The California State Fair in Sacramento, The Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, and the Los Angeles County Fair.  An average day at work usually consisted of five tours, each lasting about 40 minutes.  As a tour guide, I was asked a lot of crazy questions, but those only made the tours more fun. Depending on the audiences’ questions, I cantered to their area of interest. No two tours went the same.  At the Erie County Fair, the booth set up was located in a large barn with all sorts of newborn animals including the birthing center for expecting dairy cows.  That was a great opportunity to educate people on all the different animals’ birthing processes, especially in the dairy industry.

This internship really put me out of my comfort zone for two main reasons. Firstly, I’m very introverted, and second, I didn’t grow up with any livestock experience.  Additionally, I’m typically a really shy person. Before my internship, I could barely speak in front of my communications class, but now I’m fine speaking in front of a group of 20 strangers, and even approaching onlookers at the fair to talk to them about livestock.  Growing up, my family farmed walnuts, rice, prunes, almonds, and some pistachios, not livestock.  From growing up in a rural area and spending a year at Cal Poly, I knew a little bit about each animal, but through this experience, I’ve learned more than I ever thought about the livestock industry.

moo-u-3I’ve met so many amazing people from working with Moo U this summer, and have made some great connections.  Along with becoming more knowledgeable in the livestock and agriculture industry as a whole, I’ve built self-confidence and grown in my public speaking skills.  Overall, this internship was a great opportunity and learning experience.

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AMS 2016: San Luis to St. Luis

By James Broaddus
Agricultural Communication major

Picture this, St. Louis, Missouri in the middle of July, its 96 degrees F with 85 percent humidity. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch Hotel and Conference Center for the annual Agricultural Media Summit. That sets the scene – slightly toasty temperatures; a venue on the river by one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States and some of the most excited Ag-vocates in the country.

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The Agricultural Media Summit (AMS) is the largest agricultural communications convention in the country and it draws international agriculture professionals as well. A diverse group of journalists, PR pros, marketing experts, photographers, and college students joined with their shared love of communication about agriculture and how the industry feeds the world.

AMS had a plethora of activities for both seasoned professionals and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college students looking to expand their careers in agricultural communication. Workshops and round tables varied from a business info-expo with over 65 companies represented to informational seminars including topics from InDesign and photography, to experts speaking on farm investing and risk communication.

Well represented by ten students, Cal Poly’s agricultural communication majors had one of the largest college groups in attendance. The Cal Poly crew had a variety of interests, experiences, and brought strong Poly Pride to an event with a rather small west coast presence.

Now, that’s enough lead in… Let me tell you about AMS 2016!

Day 1, Sunday July 24, 2016

The conference unofficially began for us Mustangs at 12:00 p.m. sharp with a convergence in the hotel lobby and a short chat with Dr. Vernon about expectations and goals, and even some griping about the terrible thing surrounding us called, wait for it, HUMIDITY! AMS then officially began at 2:00 p.m.  with the ACT Welcome and Student Professional Session; a fantastic way to meet industry professionals and learn a little more about what lies ahead from the ACT national officer board. The opening seminar was followed by a trip to the famous Osborn Barr marketing agency, headquartered in St. Louis, right by the beautiful Busch Stadium.

Osborn Barr was my favorite part of the first day! The O+B office is not only located in a very cool area of St. Louis, across the street from the home of the Cardinals, but also is designed with creative desk layouts and work spaces. The first, and most important thing I saw when entering the building, was the O+B Core Values. They were posted all throughout the building. The values are: Be Curious, Walk in Someone Else’s Boots, Be Humble, Roll Up your Sleeves, Be a Good Neighbor, Leave the World in a Better Place, and Be Resilient. A cluster of very mind expanding values which are literally instilled at the door to remind all of a quality workplace environment.

The first day wrapped up with the baseball themed famous “Welcome Party”. This fun meet and greet evening was filled with networking, good food, and music. Being good Californians, Cal Poly represented the best team, in my opinion, the San Francisco Giants!FullSizeRender 18

Day 2, Monday, July 25

Early bird gets the worm! Our second day beside the Mississippi River began at 7:30 a.m. with a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, and muffins coupled with hot tea and coffee. With stomachs full and minds ready to learn, the breakaway sessions began. With several options, Cal Poly students attended sessions from Adobe InDesign (just wait to see what the AgCircle team has learned), a panel all about farm investing, social media marketing, and photography- taught by a CSU Chico professor. The second session quickly followed with video work and communicating GMOs. I would highly recommend asking any of the Mustangs in attendance to hear their individual reflections on the varying topics. As the day continued we kept learning from industry professionals and masters of varying topics.

That afternoon commenced the ACT Critique Contest and Awards. Being a competitive bunch, we were pleased how Cal Poly came home with some hardware as Harrison Reilly and Quincie Gourley became nationally recognized in broadcast journalism and photography, respectively.

To celebrate – and mostly refuel from a long day of learning- we took to the town, grabbing dinner by the ballpark and taking A LOT of group pictures.

Day 3, Tuesday, July 26

IMG_1434The morning began with breakfast at the info expo…another highlight of the trip. The expo, provided the opportunity to meet many industry leaders and learn about potential jobs in agricultural communications. It reinforced why we are in school and what we are learning in our classes. Every professional I met spoke very highly of Cal Poly graduates, reminding me how great Cal Poly’s reputation is around the entire country!

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Following some additional hand shaking and business card trading, we attended more sessions. Learning about agricultural statistics from USDA experts, the art of proofreading, sales, marketing, and other such intriguing topics kept us students engaged and thankful to attend.

 

 

During the final luncheon, Chris Koch, a part-time farmer, philanthropist, world traveler, and motivational speaker, touched our hearts. There is one big detail to know, Chris was born without arms and legs. He said, “To do the average activity, I have to give 400%.” He left everyone in the room speechless and thankful. To watch Chris’ videos and read his story, click here.

The conclusion of AMS included the National ACT Business meeting to discuss past events, give annual updates, and elect next year’s officer team to National ACT members. While Cal Poly students did not run for office this year, we participated fully in electing a new qualified team, who can be followed on the National ACT Facebook Page. The new officers were presented at the AMS formal Closing Dinner along with award winning members of American Agricultural Editors Association(AAEA), a professional group of distinguished writers. It was quite impressive and inspiring to see the awards received, which could be some of my fellow Cal Poly colleagues someday.

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Overall, AMS 2016 was a success in my books! From making good friends, gaining much knowledge, to seeing future career opportunities, it is an absolute must for any student desiring to have a career in Ag Communications.

The next AMS is in Snowbird, see ya there!

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Opening Doors

By Chanel Jensen
Agricultural Communications Major

As an agricultural communication student minoring in equine science, I wanted to spend the summer working for a company to help me gain exposure in both the horse industry and communications. I believe that my summer employment will  prepare me for my dream internship in the coming years which is with the American Paint Horse or American Quarter Horse Journal, both of which hire interns in marketing and journalism.

This summer, I am working at Riding Warehouse, a retail and online store for horse products. We sell tack and riding clothes for western, English, and endurance riders, as well as a myriad of equine grooming and health products. When I was hired in April, I worked in the warehouse, picked products and packed orders which helped me become familiar with how the store and its technology works. After a few weeks, I began my immersion in the storefront, where I worked face to face with customers. I quickly learned that this can be a demanding job. So far, I have learned many lessons about customer service and professionalism. All of these lessons have greatly contributed to improving my communication skills both on the retail floor and on the phone. Having an online store, Riding Warehouse receives a multitude of calls every day. Soon I will be trained to assist customers in this way. I have really come to enjoy the daily customer interactions on the retail floor.

Looking back on my three months working at Riding Warehouse, I can think of many times when I felt I helped a customer purchase a product for themselves and their horses in the best way possible. It’s a great feeling when customers leave satisfied and excited to use their new products. I look forward to having those interactions over the phone as well. My communication skills will only grow.

I believe Riding Warehouse will continue to provide many skills and experiences necessary for obtaining future internships and jobs. Additionally, I feel that Riding Warehouse is helping me to build valuable relationships with the agricultural sector of California’s Central Coast. Not only am I creating professional relationships such as those with customers and management, but I am also making new friends! I love being immersed in an environment with horse crazy college girls, just like me.

Overall, my employment at Riding Warehouse has and will continue to open many doors for me. I look forward to my future with the company and my future in the Agriculture and Equine Industries!RW pic

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The Other Side of the Fair

By Quincie Gourley
Agricultural Communication major

The youth organization 4-H is a program I could not imagine my life without. As a proud 4-H member, I have shown market hogs at my local county fair for ten years. Throughout the years, I have learned so much about animals, people, and myself. FullSizeRender-2My 4-H experiences led to my summer internship at the Monterey County Fairgrounds working as the media and marketing intern. Going into this internship, I knew social media management and marketing the fair would be my key focus.  I have been handling all of the fair’s social media accounts, and working with all the sponsorships.

There wasn’t much to managing the social media platforms, so I didn’t have a problem with posting updates about the fairgrounds. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the website Hoot suite, an absolute blessing in managing all of the 4-H accounts. I was also asked to manage the Heritage Foundation’s accounts, a large non-profit organization associated with the Monterey County fairgrounds.

 

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Pictured: A member of the Santa Lucia Rotary Club, two Fair Board Members, Our Heritage Foundation Scholarship Recipient, and intern Quincie Gourley

Sponsorships on the other hand, were an entirely different world to me. The only thing I knew about sponsors was they got their logos on fancy prints. I was given all of the “in-kind” media sponsors to work out agreements and negotiating deals.

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Quincie hanging up fair posters as part of her effort to gain sponsorships from local groups and businesses.

Shortly after, I was handling cash sponsors, emailing corporate companies, talking to CEOs, being on conference calls, and getting cc’d on tons of email. For a couple of weeks, I felt like an Agribusiness major.

Now, I am in the middle of planning two events: The Fair Kick-Off Dinner BBQ and the MCF’s Wine Competition and Pouring. The Kick Off Dinner planning has pulled me going in a million different directions. It is quickly approaching, and there is not nearly enough time to get in all my phone calls or donations. The “newest” part of my internship is managing the Wine Competition. Throughout the entire process, Jacky Eshelby, a Cal Poly Agribusiness professor, has helped me. However, the differences between wines or food and wine pairings is beyond me. I have used my “learn by doing” skills to created wine flights for the five-day event. What an experience!

One of the trickiest thing to understand was how to email in a professional manner. Simple, right?  I have never been cc’d on an email or even had a $10,000 sponsorship in my hands. To think my boss believed I could have handle all of this as an 18-year-old is humbling. I don’t take it lightly. Some days are tougher than others, but those are the days I’ll remember and learned valuable lessons. Just like some of the stubborn 4-H hogs I showed at fair, I made the best of the situation. In my internship, I have gained so much more knowledge, from the other side of the fair.

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D.C. Internship: New National Perspective

By Emma Morris
Agricultural Communication major

This summer, I have had the privilege of interning in our nation’s capital with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Specifically, I am interning with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in the Research and Promotion (R&P) division of the Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program (LPS). The Federal Government loves initialisms. Essentially, AMS administers programs encouraging marketing opportunities in the American agriculture industry. AMS staff oversee the National Organic Program, conduct Quality Grading and Standards inspections, and support commodity-specific efforts, including Dairy; Specialty Crops; Livestock, Poultry, & Seed; and Cotton & Tobacco programs. They also provide regulatory oversight for 22 research and promotion programs, which is the area I am working in.

These research and promotion programs, also known as Check-off programs, are industry funded and run by boards made up of industry members (with AMS oversight). The board members are nominated by their industry and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The size of the board is based on the size of the particular commodity. For example, there are 100 members on the Beef Board and six on the Popcorn Board. The boards are funded by the industry based on their particular Check-off program details. For instance, the Beef Board collects $1-per-head from producers on all cattle sold in the U.S. and the equivalent on imported cattle. Other commodities have other methods of collection, but the idea is the same; producers pay into these programs based on how much of their commodity they sell. This money is then used to fund research and promotion efforts within the industry. You may be familiar with some of these efforts:

Because the boards are appointed by the Secretary, they are considered quasi-government agencies and therefore must have government approval on everything they do. In the Livestock, Poultry, and Seed (LPS) program, marketing specialists oversee 6 of the 22 programs: beef, pork, poultry, lamb, soybeans, and sorghum. The specialists’ oversight includes reviewing and approving everything the boards do and say, from their annual budget to research papers to social media posts. Specialists also attend board meetings and communicate almost daily with the boards they oversee.

My duties this summer have been to help the LPS marketing specialists with their oversight roles and to learn the intricacies of the programs. My main goals this summer are to learn all I can about the USDA and its operation, improve my professional and workplace communication skills, and make connections in Washington, D.C.  I got this internship in a spontaneous and serendipitous way, with very little time to prepare, but I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity. My learning curve has been vertical and I’m soaking up all the experiences and buzz around D.C. that I can. I look forward to completing the internship and coming back to California with a national perspective on agriculture.

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Expanding Horizons

By Mary Allen
Agriculture Communication major with a Agribusiness minor

A plethora of new information, tall buildings, and business professional dress are some ways to describe the beginning of my internship experience with the California Rice Commission (CRC) in Sacramento, California.  As the first intern to not come from a rice farming background, I had a lot of learning to do. DuDSC_0978ring the first couple of weeks, I really enjoyed absorbing how rice is grown, farmed, and harvested. It’s an amazing process. I’m officially a rice fan for life!

 

During my eight-week internship, I will shadow each of the CRC staff members for two weeks in order to better understand the rice industry. Their areas of specialty include pesticide regulations, environmental programs, communications strategies, and policy influence.

Learning about pesticide regulations opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of purposeful regulations and registration through the Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). I even got a picture with the Director of DPR, the President of Western Plant Health Association, and George Soares, a well-respected attorney for many agriculture agencies!

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During my week with Jim Morris, the Communications Manager for CRC, we met several professionals including photographers, videographers, agriculture journalists, social media specialists and media designers. Jim keeps busy by planning, delegating, and organizing 11 postings a day on the CRC’s social media platforms. I learned tips and tricks of social media in and out of the field. He also manages media content for two CRC website, CalRice.org and CalRiceNews.org, which is a full time job. With over 550,000 acres of rice grown in the Sacramento Valley, Jim is in charge of the Sacramento Valley news and media platforms. Learning how to represent all commodity groups in the Sacramento Valley was also very interesting.  I was reminded of the importance of keeping a common brand and message in communication. Jim repeatedly said, “Surround yourself with good people, and you will accomplish your goals.”  On the communications side, part of my duties as an intern is writing a weekly blog, contributing to social media with my photos, and completing any other writing needs.

Tim Johnson, the CEO & President of CRC, explained the structural difference between commissions like CRC, and trade organizations such as Citrus Mutual. Both groups require particular leadership and management. Understanding how to achieve the most from your staff by providing incentives and guidelines are techniques I can use in school and beyond.

So many new experiences I never dreamed of happen on a daily basis.  Whether it’s having dinner with a State Assemblyman and prominent agriculture leaders, meeting agriculturalists from France through The California Agriculture Leadership Program or touring a rice research station. I am so thankful for this opportunity of a lifetime to be immersed in the rice industry, which is such a great example in the agriculture. I look forward to learning more before the completion of my internship to help prepare me for my future career and continue to expand my horizons.

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Looking forward to it all!

By Annie Hamilton
Ag. Communication Major

I have always admired the Harvey Lyman Company in Walnut Grove, California because of the great employees who are always so supportive of different youth organizations. When I heard of the opportunity to be the marketing intern at The Tremont / Lyman Groups headquarters in Woodland, California, I jumped on it. And I’m so glad I did!

From the moment I started, everyone has been nothing but welcoming which makes me look forward to work every day.  It is such an incredible feeling to want to get up early in the morning for work because I love what I am doing and the people I’m around.

In 2012, my brother graduated from Cal Poly and the former CFO of Apple Inc, Peter Oppenheimer, gave the commencement address. The best advice he gave to the graduates was the importance of a good mentor at work. As I reflect on this, I feel so fortunate for the many great mentors teaching me this summer. Now I fully understand what Oppenheimer said that day.

I love sitting down with people who have worked with the company for 40+ years and hearing the history of the industry, particularly the side stories of how they are where they are today. The Tremont / Lyman Groups has many unique stories of people who manage the different divisions successful that makes the company stand out. For example, some of the division locations like the Harvey Lyman Group and Growers Ag in Dixon, California are still a family run businesses.

Annie in Action
This summer one of the company’s overall goals is to expand the photo library at the different divisions to showcase the variety of operations happening at each location.  To complete part of this task, I had the incredible opportunity to fly with Les Lyman, the CEO, and Julie Newton, my boss, to take aerial photos of the different properties. Wow, that was amazing! Seeing the different divisions from the sky was such an awesome experience and I was so lucky to be able to be a part of it. This is just one of the many different tasks I have and will be doing this summer.  I look forward to it all!

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