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!


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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