October 15, 2015

Summer in St. Louis: Farming, Firsts, and Fun


By Emily Scholting, National Corn Growers Association Intern. 

The amazing NCGA office in St. Louis that 
I had the chance to work in for the summer!
Hello again! After spending an amazing summer as an intern for the National Corn Growers Association, I am back in Nebraska and beginning my senior year at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. While I'm sad that the summer has ended, I'm also very excited to continue my collegiate career and see where the future takes me!

In the final weeks of my internship in St. Louis, I got to work on my ongoing projects as well as a few new projects, and I really got to know the people I was working with. I spent some time with my coexistence project, and though we didn't get the chance to finish it as summer came to an end, I will be in touch with NCGA's Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis to see how the final product turns out. It will be really exciting to see something that I've worked on being used as a resource for actual corn growers around the country! I also finished up my list of potential technologies to be used for plant phenotyping in agriculture, as well as a list of companies that may potentially bring other products to market soon. It turned out to be a really comprehensive way to learn about up-and-coming technologies in the agricultural world, and it is fascinating to see this industry finding new ways to engage with and use science to make our products better.

While at NCGA, I also worked on compiling information about upcoming biotechnology events in corn and soybeans. Using publicly available information from the websites and press releases of major players in the biotech industry, I outlined the new products in the research pipeline in their various stages of development, from proof-of-concept to limited consumer launch in corn, as well as from advanced development to launch in soybeans. There are definitely some new and exciting traits in the works that farmers in Nebraska and all over the U.S. should be excited about!

In addition to my work mostly with the Production and Sustainability department at NCGA, I got to spend some of my remaining time with the marketing and grassroots side of things. I worked with data from RFS efforts, mobile apps, and research on those candidates currently seeking presidential election in 2016. I was able to see a bit more of the political side of the organization, which helped me put into real applications some of what I've learned as a political science major. I even wrote my first comment to the EPA as a concerned college student regarding the RFS. I also got to discuss some of the things that go into communications with that part of the staff, and I received some great tips on how to improve my writing and communication styles in the future.

Perhaps the most rewarding parts of this internship for me were the meetings I was able to have with several of NCGA's staff at the end of the summer. I cannot say enough about how gracious and wonderful the people that I worked with are, and there's no way I can begin to thank them for all the amazing things they've done for me. I had the opportunity to wrap up my internship with a presentation to the whole staff, who were all incredibly supportive and encouraging. I also had meetings with several of my supervisors, who gave me advice and guidance for the road ahead. I had the chance to explain my future plans and discuss them with some of the people I consider to be the best in the industry, and I could not be more grateful for that part of my summer.
My first Major League Baseball game at Busch Stadium!
As usual, I also did some really fun things outside of the office during my last few weeks. One of my coworkers took me to my first MLB game at Busch Stadium, and I had a chance to verify that the Cardinals supporters really are the best fans in baseball. I also went to Six Flags when my sisters came to visit, and we had a blast on the roller coasters. I spent an exciting week back home at the Sarpy County Fair, which has always meant a lot to me with my 4-H background. I was able to watch my siblings in the beef show and the tractor pull, and I had the chance to talk to some of my favorite Nebraska farmers about what I've been doing all summer. During my last week in the office, I spent most of my lunch breaks with various combinations of my awesome coworkers, and got to try even more of the unique restaurants in Chesterfield. I even got the original recipe for St. Louis gooey butter cake, an arch-city staple, from a coworker whose family used to own the famous bakery.

My sisters and I at the Sarpy County Fair, where 
they showed two of the champion market beef animals!
I learned so much over the course of the summer that it can't possibly be condensed into a single blog post. When I was home for a week during the county fair, I got to continue the conversations of agriculture with people I've known my whole life, and I truly realized how much I gained from this experience. I'm leaving with a better knowledge of myself, of the NCGA, and of the industry as a whole. Though I'm still not sure exactly where I want to be when I finish law school, I've found so many areas within the agriculture industry where I could put my passion and newly-gained knowledge to excellent use. I am extremely thankful to the Nebraska Corn Board and the NCGA staff for this amazing opportunity, and for a summer I'll never forget. I am more excited about the endless opportunities in the agriculture industry than ever before, and I look forward to finding my place in it!

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