By Bryan Brower, US Grains Council Intern
I can’t believe that my summer with USGC has already come to an end. I had an absolutely fantastic time, I couldn’t have asked for a better overall experience. Interning for the U.S. Grains Council in their Washington, D.C. headquarters gave me a unique insight at how this international non-governmental organization operates and the industry and stakeholders they work to serve. I walk away from my summer with the Grains Council with my first experiences with agriculture and international trade. There is a certain sense of pride to represent a good portion of my fellow Nebraskans and advocate for their concerns and interests on the international level. Along with being able to check living in D.C. off my bucket list, I had an unbelievable experience.
There have been a lot of new developments and transitions at USGC since I have last posted. From USGC annual board of delegates meeting to one of my supervisor’s promotion, Marri Carrow, formerly the Director of Communications, promoted to Regional Director for Latin America. The Council has new leadership in Ron Gray along with a new set of delegates and of course the ever-expanding list of member organizations. All this on top of my special project, arranging for an 11-day, 3-state tour for a 9-person trade team from Taiwan, made for quite a hectic last month at the Council.
Ironically enough, the board of delegates meeting this time was in Omaha which allowed me to travel for the meeting, something other interns have previously not had the opportunity to do. Something all past USGC interns have shared in was all the work that goes into hosting a 300-plus annual meeting at a conference center in a different city. Helping to coordinate the meeting gave me the opportunity to really see what all goes into maintaining positive member relations. Then having the chance to actually be in attendance for the meeting and learn about some of the emerging opportunities and potential threats and concerns really gave me, someone who before this summer had no real exposure to anything agriculturally related, both a broad and intricate understanding of the industry. After the Omaha meeting, I got the chance to work a couple smaller projects for the new Director of Communications, Melissa Kessler. As a new member of the USGC staff she brought with her new ideas and a fresh perspective which translated into many new and sometimes exploratory initiatives. It was my job to conduct the first bit of feasibility research and sort of bring everyone up to speed, so to speak, on many of these new projects. This included everything from researching which communication tactics and mediums are most effective with farmers to how to conduct the best return on investment study for USGC. My special project also required quite a bit of my time, from planning meetings and tours to arranging for hotels and transportation.
On top of all this, I had a great experience being a young (semi)professional living in the nation’s capitol, the world’s center for everything politics. I can’t say enough about the adjustment to move away from all my friends and family and live in a new city, one that is bigger than any I have ever previously lived in, I might add. The experience of finding your way and making new friends is a skill I am realizing to be extremely vital to an increasingly global and connected world. D.C. gave me a fresh perspective about what makes Nebraska special but what maybe was the most inspiring thing about my D.C. experience from what I gathered from talking with other ag-interns and young professionals in general. I see most people of my \ genuinely want to work together in a more altruistic way in the political and social sphere to enact meaningful change. Everyone seems to be on the same page that our generation will see tremendous change both domestically and internationally. There will be a number of issues that will require people coming together to overcome extreme sources of inertia. The world we live in will look drastically different over the next 50 years and we are the ones who will shape it in the best way possible.