Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Agricultural Policy - Opportunities Galore!

Government is a terrible thing for many people - including my friends and family back home. I did not grow up in a home interested in politics. I'm sure if you asked my Dad his own opinion of government, he'd saying something to the effect of "they just take all my money!" or "that's where my taxes go!". Before this summer, I would say I was indifferent. I didn't know what to think, but what's important is that I kept an open-mind and I was ready to learn.

Working for the Office of Congressman Rodney Davis this past summer was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I can honestly say that my faith in the men and women who govern our country is strong. Those people are working hard, doing what they believe is right, and most of them are the perfect people for the job they do.

For those of you who do not know, your personal Congressman represents around 750,000 people in your area of the nation. He/she probably has around 10 professional staff working in Washington, DC and many more working on particular issues/areas in the congressional district at various locations. All of them are there to serve you! So the next time you have an opinion, question or comment to share - call them! Your comments will be heard, and they do matter when the Congressmen makes his/her voting decisions.

Illinois' 13th Congressional District - approx. 750,000 people!

My own experiences working included many mundane office tasks such as answering phone calls and responding to emails and letters. I also gave various U.S. Capitol tours and hosted different office visitors, engaging in small talk and the occasional corny joke. While these items were important in demonstrating my commitment to the office and my passion to be successful, I truly shined when given tasks or projects in my primary area of interest - agriculture.

I worked on several short-term agricultural projects such as organizing briefing materials for agriculture committee hearings and writing letters to constituents about agricultural issues. My large agricultural project, which was perhaps the most important experience of the summer, consisted of doing a full legislative analysis of Title VII (Research) of the 2014 Farm Bill. This section of the bill pertains to the land-grant university system (i.e., UIUC), agricultural experiment stations, and many other forms of public and private research. I analyzed this legislation to help prepare to plan for the next farm bill anticipated in 2018.

Living in D.C. was completely opposite of my hometown experience in Northern Illinois, but it was something I valued and found comfort in. I appreciated the hustle, the new friendships, and the variety of events/activities going on every day!

I loved working with my fellow interns in the office. They were so great to meet, and I think I walked away with some great new contacts and a few new friends!

I was told before departing for Washington that I would either love it or hate it. I would say I loved it! I hope I can go back and continue to work in agricultural policy. While politics is not always a favored or publicly-adorned career path, it is the way we as citizens impact our own governance. Agriculture and rural-America need a strong, strategic voice in Washington, and I would like to be that for them.

Don't forget to go vote on November 8th! Your voice matters, and voting is essential to representative government.

Marching Off the Map

This summer was full of firsts for me  - my first long-term stay outside of Illinois, first job working full-time hours, first time making an hour long commute (thanks to Atlanta traffic), and of course my first meal from Chick-fil-A. You could say, I was personally "marching off the map" - a phrase I learned from Dr. Tim Elmore, the founder, and president of Growing Leaders.

Welcome to the office!

Growing Leaders, for the first time, had an Event Planning Intern this summer. I was lucky enough to fill this position, and I enjoyed every moment of it. To give you some background on the organization, Growing Leaders is a non-profit that focuses on leadership training and development. Through engaging events and resources, Growing Leaders equips the next generation with real-life leadership skills.

 Growing Leaders serves schools, universities, sports teams, businesses, churches and more. The overarching goal of Growing Leaders is to equip one percent of the world’s youth population (25 and under) to be leaders.  This one percent amounts to about 30 million students!

Habitudes curriculum for sale at NLF
Although Growing Leaders produces a variety of resources, the most recognized is certainly the Habitudes curriculum. Habitudes uses memorable images to teach leadership habits and attitudes. The curriculum has been utilized by over 8,000 organizations worldwide.

Now, that you have a bit of background, it's much simpler for me to explain my role with Growing Leaders this summer. To start off I was given a variety of tasks such as editing Habitudes keynotes, analyzing data on world youth populations, and making phone calls to invite people to come to the National Leadership Forum. 

The main NLF ballroom
The National Leadership Forum was, by far, the biggest event of the summer. The forum is an annual two-day conference in June that provides a research-based discussion on how to effectively lead today’s students. Although I was working for most of the conference, I did get to sit in and listen to some of the speakers. As a future educator, I found myself energized by not only the presenters, but the enthusiastic teachers, coaches, and other mentors in the room.

In addition to NLF, I was able to join both Dr. Elmore and Vice President of Growing Leaders, Holly Moore for some of their other speaking engagements in the Atlanta area. At these events, I helped with details such as tech set up and merchandise sales.  These trips are some of my best memories from the internship because I was able to see both students or mentors excited to better the millennial generation, and those that will follow us.

My overall favorite part of my internship was working with the Growing Leaders team members.This summer I had the chance to work alongside passionate leaders, many of whom are millennials, that are incredibly driven to equip the next generation with leadership skills. Through this experience, I gained a new perspective on myself, my age group and our world as a whole. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in growing themselves both personally and professionally. Growing Leaders is a one of a kind organization that will show you what it means to "march off the map."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sell Me This Pen

On an average day, how many times do you think you try to sell something? Whether that is your credibility, a product, or even something as simple as a pen? Well, this summer, I had the grueling honor and task to sell advertising through a collegiate company based from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

For ten days at the beginning of summer, I traveled to the beautiful campus of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and went through the company's sales training program known as "Sales Foundation Academy" where my title was a Sales Team Leader. I attended a leadership training session for 3 days before the sales representatives arrived to learn sales training. Once they arrived, I met the rest of my team, which consisted of UIUC students interested in cold sales. This 10 day training was the hardest, most worth-while experience of my life.

After returning back to the UIUC campus, I was in charge of holding daily and evening meetings with my team as we strived to hit a sales goal for our university. We were to go on 32 cold sales calls a day and sell advertising space in a university planner, as well as endorsing a collegiate food app known as UConnection.

This summer, as a team, we set a regional standard as the number one team selling over $60,000 in advertising for the local collegiate area. In our region were schools such as, Notre Dame University, Saint Louis University, Ball State University, Illinois State University, Purdue University and many more.

Overall, I learned this summer a seriously important life lesson. Working in or with sales is a brutal, unique experience that every single person needs to have in my opinion. I stepped out of my "ag" comfort zone this summer and jumped into a entirely different world. I learned who I want to be and where I want to go in life; something I hope everyone gets to experience someday as well!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

ASPCA: Animal Poison Control Center

June 24th is national bring your pet to work day. At the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, it’s always bring your pet to work day. We’re allowed to bring our pets into the office while we work so they don’t have to sit at home alone all day. I feel like this is why many of the people in the office are happy to come in and are able to deal with the everyday calls we get, which are a whole other story themselves.
Last week marked our 406th hour at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Our” is referring to myself and Opie, who you can see in the picture with me. A couple weeks into my internship this little guy decided to come live with me, therefore is the intern pup at the APCC by default. During the internship I worked on updating protocol binders, finding information on ant bait traps to see if we could use it to increase the dose for more people to deal with, researching different kinds of fish oils and their ingredients, and mainly helping one of the DVMs on intralipid research so she can write research papers on Intarlipid Emulsion Therapy (ILE).

I started with over 5,000 cases to go through and slowly dwindled it down to just over 350 useable cases for the research papers. I presented my findings to the rest of the staff in the office during staff rounds and I will be presenting it again to the DVM’s in the office. It’s taken a lot of time and effort, finding that this therapy has helped a majority of the cases surely makes it worth it. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pig Adventures

Waking up at 4:00 am for your job everyday? Tiring. Working inside a barn all day? Smelly. Getting to work with pigs everyday? Worth it.

Hello, my name is Logan Honegger and I am now a senior at UIUC. This summer I got the chance to work out of state at a 10,000 sow pig farm in rural Indiana. Coming from a background of showing pigs, I thought I knew everything there was to know about raising hogs. But after spending 7 weeks on a huge commercial farm, it's easy to say I learned a lot. 

During my time at Martin Family Farms, or MP3 Farms, I got to visit and work in every aspect of the farm. The other interns and myself started out working in the farrowing barns. We got to spend time doing chores, feeding sows, helping sows give birth and drying off baby pigs. We also got to spend time in the breeding barns where we learned to breed sows and how the farms' record keeping system worked. 
The main purpose for the interns this summer was to complete a herd census. The other interns and I took a week and a half scanning each individual sow into a software system. This was later analyzed by managers for errors in their systems. Errors could have been a wrong ID tag on the sow or a sow that was in the system. The best part of my internship was getting to go to World Pork Expo for a week and promote a neighboring farm that has an educational center. Myself and another intern got to spend the week talking to businesses in the pork industry and getting to network. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Just Might Have Your Radio On

            When I was a little girl some of my favorite singers were George Strait, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, and Garth Brooks to mention a few. I remember rides in the farm truck with my dad checking cows or doing the feeding and listening to the radio. Little did I know that eventually one day I would be heard through the radio in someone else’s farm truck.

            I have spent my summer working for the Illini Radio Group on a Farm Broadcasting station WYXY Classic 99.1. It has been amazing to see the behind the scenes aspects of working in radio. I traveled to over 20 county fairs and other agriculture events interviewing those involved in the industry and telling their story of agriculture. Another part of my internship was reading the daily grain markets and interpreting the prices of that day.

As I got older I found myself asking signs from the radio; before an interview I would want to hear my favorite songs to give me confidence or tell me everything is going to okay. That was one thing that amazed me is when I was working in the studio the amount of requests for songs that I would get. I had people call to request to celebrate anniversaries, engagements, to and to even try mend broken hearts. It made me realize the impact that the songs and stories have on the listeners. I had several people tell me that some of the reports that I did made them change some of their practices on their family farm.

All in all, it was an amazing experience to report on something I am so passionate about; Agriculture and the people in it. I have done reports and interviews with people involved in international agriculture, and a series on farm safety, and everything in between. So tune right in wherever you go and listen to the sounds of the radio.

Monday, August 15, 2016

One Busy Summer: Venture Capital and Educational Data Analysis

By Morgan Doggett

This summer has been so much fun! As an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Universty of Illinois I-STEM and Undergraduate Assistant at IllinoisVENTURES, I've been able to utilize well-honed skills while developing much unique technical expertise throughout the summer. As a student within the Agriculture Leadership Education program at the University of Illinois, I greatly enjoy the people-centered aspect of our education. But this summer I had the opportunity to combine the focus of human capital development with a more technology-centered focus. Personally, I like to joke that this has been my "Techy" summer, where I've learned how to use, apply, and creatively integrate many data processing programs including IBM SPSS software, Survey Monkey,  and utilize Microsoft Excel like you would not believe. Each internship position has been so much fun!

University of Illinois I-STEM

The University of Illinois I-STEM is a fantastic educational component and internship experience opportunity for Agriculture Leadership Education students. The I-STEM Education Initiative is a campus coalition led by the University of Illinois Office of the Provost that works with internal and external partners to evaluate STEM education programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). I-STEM activities include creating and facilitating initiatives and events (Makergirl), promoting the development of training and outreach programs, and to help develop policies in Illinois, and nationally that promote STEM education.

This summer I was assigned to work on teams led by University of Illinois Ph.D. candidates, graduate students, and visiting faculty in projects centered on the Blue Waters Super Computer, Chicago Public Schools STEM Research and Development Program, IOLAB Physics software, and many others. Tasks include transcribing audio, analyzing statistical information, organizing research into presentation formatting, working with other undergraduates on survey creation and analysis, and much more. It is the definition of needs assessment programming, and I loved it! With I-STEM data analysis I am directly able to contribute to the data reporting of current STEM programming and data that will be used for creating and amending programming for the future. It's such a neat experience to be able to assist prospective learners through data analysis of current STEM programs and software that are on the horizon.


IllinoisVENTURES is a premier venture capital firm poised within the University of Illinois. IllinoisVENTURES was formally launched in 2002 to catalyze the creation and development of research-derived companies developed from the University of Illinois. Actively supporting entrepreneurship throughout the state of Illinois, working at IllinoisVENTURES has been a fantastic working and educational learning experience. Throughout my time with the organization, I have been able to contribute to their long-standing success through economic development data analysis and administrative support.

As a student assistant with IllinoisVENTURES,  I have the opportunity to learn first hand from highly regarded venture capitalists and investors through hands-on experience. My favorite part of working at the venture firm is the atmosphere and location of our office. Located in the heart of the University of Illinois Research Park in the Enterprise Works Building, the office is situated just North of the John Deere building. The Enterprise Works building is the primarily open concept with a wide variety of conference rooms, office areas, and open workspaces. Designers, technology coders, and undergraduate interns roam freely throughout the building work areas in pursuit creating the next big technology innovation. Upbeat background music plays throughout the building over the roar of the Olympics film broadcast on the giant screen in the atrium below. The atmosphere of the building facilitates and promotes the strong work ethic and teamwork of the technological environment.

Throughout the summer I have had a wide variety of experiences ranging from meeting and submitting a final report to the developer of a product I helped analyze at I-STEM to finding Tiesta Tea, an IllinoisVENTURES portfolio company, at the local Dierbergs grocery store while on vacation. Each day I have gotten to utilize skill sets I honed through the agriculture leadership education program. Through courses including needs assessment development and training with Ms. Korte and developing programs and resources with Dr. Keating, I was well prepared. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to complete my AGED 293 program with IllinoisVENTURES and the University of Illinois I-STEM Initiative.