Written by Kenna Lewis, Associate Editor
There are countless things to love about the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. I could go on for days about the beauty of the office: the conference room views overlooking the national mall, the barn wood rotunda, etc. I could rave about the free coffee (if you know #teambrock, you know coffee is a lifeline) or the weekly fruit deliveries. But at the end of the day, three main things have made the first month of this summer absolutely incredible: the mission of the organization, the responsibility they’ve given me as a summer intern, and the people I get to call coworkers.
For those who may not be as familiar with AFBF, the organization’s mission is to stand as a unified national voice of agriculture by working through our grassroots organizations. Farm Bureau represents every type of farming practice, from large-scale ranches to small organic farms, recognizing the need for diverse operations. This mission is not something that is taken lightly by AFBF employees.
I’ve had the chance to sit in on a few meetings from around the office where it has become evident how genuinely the staff cares about representing the grassroots level of the industry. Special committees have been formed and full positions created to ensure county FB offices up to the AFBF office are in constant communication, and that ranching families know what current issues could affect them and how AFBF is working to accurately represent all sectors of the industry.
The past four weeks in the Communications Department have been nowhere near a “typical internship.” I was shocked throughout my first week, even my first day, at the amount of trust and responsibility granted to me. Within my initial few hours in the office, my boss promised that I would never be given a menial “intern task,” and then proceeded to assign me a 1,000 word feature story for Feed & Grain magazine, and another for the official newspaper of Farm Bureau. Throughout the course of the month, I was asked to sit on panels representing AFBF, attend press conferences, and manage many of the social media platforms. I have been provided a delicate balance of helpful guidance and entrepreneurial encouragement. The trust my bosses and the rest of the AFBF team have put into my hands is both humbling and exciting, and I don’t take it lightly.
Arguably the best part of working for AFBF is the group of people I work alongside each day. During my first hour in the office, a woman from Human Resources gave me a tour of the building, and with each office we passed by, a fellow employee shook my hand, learned my name (and actually remembered it!) and asked me about my hometown. The warmth and “family attitude” of the staff makes the working environment somewhere I want to be everyday, and it is evident that the folks around me genuinely love their job.
Not only are the people beyond welcoming, they are also extremely passionate about their area of expertise. One of the coolest parts about working in such a large office is that each department specializes in something different, yet all come together to form one unified voice. Some days I’ll find myself soaking up the endless knowledge and personal experiences of the “issue experts” in the public policy department, and a day later I’ll find myself dissecting leadership theory in the organization department. The staff is made up of such a broad range of backgrounds, from past and current farmers to “city folk,” yet all have found their niche in serving a common purpose. The raw enthusiasm of those who work beside me gives me great confidence in the future of the agriculture industry.
AFBF has been such a rewarding place to work, and I know my time in DC has been a summer well spent. Although it will be over in a few short weeks, I am thrilled for what this internship still has in store!