This summer, I have a very unusual internship for someone with my career goals.
I’m working as a Resident Adviser for the Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) at Centre College.
Governor’s Scholars are high school students heading into their senior year who apply for the opportunity to participate in the prestigious 5 week program.
The program provides academic and personal growth through the balance of a strong liberal arts program with a full co-curricular and residential life experience.
In 2006, I left home and my usual summer schedule of hog shows and FFA events behind for 5 weeks at GSP, at the Morehead State University campus.
GSP was my first time leaving my rural hometown and experiencing the way the rest of the world lives.
GSP was the first time I discovered that there were people in the world who don’t know what a tractor is, actually met people who don’t eat meat and encountered people who believed that animals should have the same rights as people.
As a Governor’s Scholar, I learned the hard way that there were people in our world who think that farmers are evil.
As shocked and offended as I was by these realizations, I was in an environment that encouraged acceptance and free thinking. I soon learned that for every person I met who hated livestock producers, there was at least two more who wanted to learn about them and loved hearing stories from my family farm.
These experiences were what drove me to become an advocate for the agriculture industry, first on a local level then on my college campus through agriculture student organizations.
It the challenges that I had faced at GSP that motivated me to keep telling farmers stories to the many people who have never heard it.
When the opportunity arose for me to work at GSP as an RA and facilitator for the life changing experiences, I was ecstatic.
Not only will I be providing that same life changing environment for 350 more Kentucky students but I’ll be sharpening my skills as an agriculture advocate as well.
What? How will working at GSP help me achieve my career goals if I don’t see livestock every day?
Will this internship turn into a career? Doubtful; and that’s not my intention.
My goal for this summer is to learn.
I’m learning how the rest of society lives. I’m trying to understand a large group of consumers that we as farmers work hard to feed.
What decisions are today’s high schoolers making when it comes to food?
Where they’re getting their information?
Have these future consumers ever met a farmer?
Do they know where their food comes from?
Do they care?
I’m working with people who spend their careers as influencing these young minds.
My coworkers are from cities, small towns and even foreign countries.
Some don’t eat meat, some can’t get enough of it. Some love Michael Pollan, some join me in making fun of him.
They’re leaders, people who set an example to hundreds of others daily, and I’m studying the example they’re setting when it comes to food.
I’m getting so much more out of this job than a paycheck.
I’m gaining a perspective that can only be learned by leaving the cow pasture behind for a while and experiencing a liberal arts college campus.