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As usual my summer is jam packed with trips, conferences, and work.  The past few weeks have been more than crazy!

Here’s a recap:

I spent June 9-11 as Public Relations Intern for the Kentucky Association FFA.  This meant that I contacted (and in some cases annoyed) Lexington media outlets and tried to convince them to cover the first KY FFA Convention there in 65 years. 

When a reporter showed up, I found them a story.  Pretty simple…pretty stressful!

Even though I shoved her in front of news writers, Ashlee Castle still loves me!

Even though I shoved her in front of reporters, Ashlee Castle still loves me!

Luckily, Kentucky FFA is full of newsworthy members.  Special props go out to Quint Pottinger and Ashlee Castle, state officers who I shoved in front of a camera or reporter with little or no prior notice.

A HUGE thank you, congratulations, or whatever goes out to Jessica Gambrel from the North Laurel FFA Chapter. 

When a TV station showed up after the opening session had started, I couldn’t allow them to interview a state officer.  Jessica was the courtesy corps member stationed by the awards room so we just grabbed her and took a chance on letting them interview her.

She rocked it!  Only a junior in high school, Jessica was poised and articulate as she explained what KY FFA meant to her and how excited the members were to be in Lexington.  She handled some tough questions perfectly, and I could not have been more proud!

My other big job at KY FFA Convention was to be the “Roaming Reporter.”  I picked a question, grabbed a camera man from our video crew, and took off to find members to interview.  The end product was a pre-session video prefacing the session to come and giving the average member a chance to be a part of the convention happenings.

I won’t lie, being 19 years old and having your own camera guy (even if only for 2 hours) is pretty cool!

Josh, Tyler, and Aaron: my former state officer teammates at the preconvention Lexington Legends game

Josh, Tyler, and Aaron: my former state officer teammates at the Lexington Legends game.

The best part of convention, without a doubt, was catching up with old FFA friends.  It is surreal to think about how differently my life would be without my 5 years in a blue jacket.  My FFA friends are my family, and I don’t really know what I’d do without them.

After convention and a couple days of rest, laundry, and packing, I was headed to Michigan!

Audrey, my boyfriend’s sister, tagged along and kept me company on the 8 hour drive to Lansing.  I really owe her for that!  She helped me unload all my crap, set up my room, move my bed, and was an awesome navigator. 

Monday was my first day of work as: Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Communications: Animal Welfare/Animal Agriculture Initiative Intern. Say that 3 times fast!

Basically, the intern who experiences whatever is going on in the world of Michigan State Animal Ag Extension (primarily dairy) and goes back to the office and writes about it.

Monday was a “get to know you” day.  I met a lot of the people I’m sharing office space with and learned what they do and what they’re working on.

A participant describes the characteristics of a Brown Swiss for her fellow Cow Campers.

A participant describes the characteristics of a Brown Swiss for her fellow Cow Campers.

Tuesday was Cow Camp.  That was an experience!  MSU put on 5 different one day Dairy Youth Cow Camps across Michigan.  The whole idea behind this is to teach kids about the dairy industry.  Most of the participants show dairy, but many are just interested in the industry.

Participants rotate between learning stations and sampled dairy products, learned the differences in dairy breeds, practiced showmanship techniques, listened to a calf’s heartbeat and shot their own “Got Milk” advertisements complete with milk mustaches!
    
I was learning right along with the kids.  I have no dairy background whatsoever and was totally out of my element.  It was very humbling to watch a 6 year old name all the dairy breeds and realize that I couldn’t!
 
Wednesday and Thursday I was on the Michigan Milk Producers Association Milk Marketing Tour.  This consisted of high school students who were interested in cooperatives and the dairy industry. 
This group designed a cooperative that would help dairy producers convert manure to a marketable product.

This group designed a cooperative that would help dairy producers convert manure to a marketable product.

Prior to this event, I had no idea how milk was marketed.  I learned so much in these two days that I know I annoyed my boyfriend as I spouted off random dairy facts every time I talked to him! 

At the end of the tour, students were assigned teams and asked to design their own cooperatives and present them to the group.  It was really neat to see them apply what they had learned and think outside the box. 
  
Now its Friday.  I’ve been in the office, writing articles, designing posters, and meeting with industry professionals and all in my first week’s work.
  

When I lay in bed at night, I still wonder if I really am in Michigan. 

Did I really move 8 hours from home to chase a dream?  Am I really living in a strange city, working on a strange campus, pursuing a practically nonexistent career goal? Sometimes I think I’ve lost my mind. 

And then something will happen that reminds me why I’m here. 

Like today, when I was meeting with someone in the industry that I hardly knew and she listened to what I had to say.  Or Tuesday, when a 10 year old asked me what he should do about the fact that no on in his class thought farming was as cool as he did.  Or Thursday, when a dairy farmer’s wife told me she couldn’t wait to see my name in by-lines. 

I may have lost my mind, but I sure haven’t lost sight of what I’m here for: to stick up for the agriculture industry and give it a voice.


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