Morgan Leefers – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Lincoln, NE
Hello again! It’s been quite a few months since my last update and a lot has changed since then. Going into the fall semester of school, I was excited to get into a new routine. This semester, I’ve learned how to prioritize just about everything in my life, including work and school, which was a challenge within itself. I started off my last post by mentioning how much I enjoyed my internship over the summer, so here’s an update for you… I officially never want to leave! Nebraska Corn has become my home away from home. Over the past couple of months, I have been challenged and encouraged in a way that’s helped me grow into the person I am now; I’m so thankful for my experiences here.
I’ve taken part in more events than I can count, which has been one of my absolute favorite parts of this internship! Whether it’s our annual events or participating in local events with growers, I have enjoyed every minute. I have had the opportunity to learn about so many different farms across the state, all while getting to know our growers and their families! I have yet to master the names of all of our board members, but I am now officially accepting any suggestions you may have about how I can go about remembering them. I have learned a lot about the importance of leadership development while attending industry tours with the Ambassador program and the PRIME program. Each of these experiences gave me the chance to discover new things about the agriculture industry that are important, but outside the realm of my everyday life. Much of the knowledge I’ve gained wouldn’t have been possible without these programs; and I’m impressed by how much these experiences have helped myself and the other participants grow. Whether you’re a young college student like me or someone who’s out there farming everyday, one thing is for certain… the ag industry never stays the same. It’s constantly evolving and it’s important for all of us to grow right along with it.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve learned so much about Nebraska’s government and how the Association plays a role in advocating for farmers on both the state and federal level. I had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. with the Nebraska Corn Board’s D.C. Leadership group last summer. This trip was incredible, and I can’t say enough great things about it! A group of us had the chance to attend a Trade School hosted by the U.S. Grains Council. It was really interesting to hear leaders from other industries discuss how the different trade agreements could impact them. We also got to attend meetings with congressional leaders and talk with them about things like ethanol and trade; topics that are important to corn farmers back at home in Nebraska. That trip helped me better understand how those trade agreements and ethanol waivers would impact Nebraska and how important it is to use your voice to advocate for what you believe in. And after months of back and forth, we finally got USMCA signed by President Trump. There is strength in numbers! That being said, I’m excited to get to head back in a few short weeks for our D.C. Leadership Mission with the Association!
One of the most amazing things I’ve learned to love about Nebraska Corn is how much each and every person who is involved, truly enjoys being here and taking part in something bigger than themselves. I’ve attended membership drives and promotional events where growers have the chance to volunteer. Every person those growers interact with leave the conversation with a better understanding of not only what NeCGA does, but more importantly… who we’re here for: THE FARMERS. Morgan has said it time and time again… the growers really are our best recruiters. There is nobody that can talk about what the Association has done for you or your farm, like you can! I’ve come to realize that each person who is taking part in our efforts, is doing so because at one time, they had a friend who asked them to come along to a program or convinced them to help at one of our booths. One thing’s for certain: everyone who is here advocating for Nebraska Corn arrived here by getting out of their comfort zone. Each person’s story is unique, and it began with someone else giving them a little boost in the right direction. I think that’s a pretty neat thing to be a part of.
My internship has helped me grow more than I could have imagined. It has pushed me to almost always end up outside of my comfort zone, and typically by the time I realize I’m out there, it’s too late to go back! This experience has helped me to just “jump in head-first”, do my best and hope everything goes according to plan. Which if you personally know me you know I love a good plan. During one of these out-of-my-comfort-zone moments, I ended-up on a Pure Nebraska talking about harvest safety. Morgan had texted to ask just how much I wanted to grow from my internship… and I answered A LOT, which is exactly what happened. This experience challenged me to overcome the fear of something new, and it taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I’m willing to do just about anything, if it’s ethical and will make me a better, stronger person in the long run. So, I’ll take those moments that might seem a little bit scary at first, survive them and look at them as an opportunity to learn from each new experience that presents itself.
The past nine months have been a blur! However, I look at it as a good kind of blur… one that happens when you’re learning so much about something you love and trying to figure out how you can turn it into a career! I came into this internship not really knowing what I wanted to do when I got out of school, other than that I wanted to work in the ag industry because it’s full of great people. Thanks to my experiences here at Nebraska Corn, I have a clearer picture of what I want to be doing when I graduate. I am so thankful for the opportunities Nebraska Corn has given me and am forever grateful for the excellent leaders I’m getting to learn from. Everyone here has given me a ton of support and encourages me in a way that makes me feel confident enough to expand my horizons. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time has in store!
Hi Nebraska Corn readers! It’s so crazy that two months have already passed since I started this internship! Coming into this position with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, I was 95% excited and 5% nervous to start something new. I was unsure of what my future in agriculture would look like. I knew that this year would prove to be a good thing for me, one that would focus on my interests in agriculture, as well as help me build my skills in the communication aspect of the industry. And boy, if the rest of the year at Nebraska Corn is anything like this summer has been… I never want to leave! I am so very thankful for the opportunity to serve this association.
One of the things I was looking forward to most as I began this internship, was having the chance to get out of the office and meet our growers, first-hand. Attending a couple of board meetings has given me the opportunity to get to know our growers a little better as I listened to discussions, heard about their day-to-day experiences and got the chance to pick their brains. It’s interesting to see how they interact, and to hear them go back and forth on current topics such as property taxes. One of my very ambitious goals for this summer is to learn all the names of our board members (yes, all 26 of them); I’ll update you on how that plays out. Having two “Morgan’s” in our office can be a little confusing at times, but it’s a blessing in disguise because even though I’m “the intern”, it makes it pretty simple for everyone to remember my name!
I’ve really enjoyed getting to help prepare for the summer events Nebraska Corn organizes across the state. As an intern, one of the first events I got to take part in was an ethanol pump promo at Casey’s in Omaha. We pumped gas and had conversations with consumers about ethanol production. This was the first time I got to really watch consumers experience that “ah-ha moment” — when what we were saying helped them understand how Nebraska’s largest industry, agriculture, affects their own lives.
Coming into this experience, if you would have tried to talk with me about current ag policies… I would have probably given you a funny look. That’s because growing up on my family farm, we were busy with the day-to-day aspects of our operation that we didn’t take the time to discuss bigger picture items. It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy lives and forget to pay attention to the things happening in the U.S. and world-wide that also impact our farm’s success. This internship has helped me realize the importance of staying up-to-date on all things ag policy. I’ve set a goal of reading three different articles each week to help me get moving in the right direction. I know I have a lot to learn, so I also made a point to listen to the afternoon session of the Nebraska Legislature and found them quite interesting.
Over the last month, I’ve also come to realize that we need to take every opportunity we can to help consumers learn more about where their food comes from! Advocacy and education are two sectors of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association’s mission statement that I’ve gotten to see in action. At the CommonGround Banquet on the Farm, I got to see first-hand, the work of some truly amazing women in Nebraska agriculture. CommonGround volunteers put on an event for family consumer science teachers from across the state, where they were able to converse, ask questions, and learn about all things related to Nebraska agriculture. It was an eye-opening experience to see all the moving parts that must work together to put on this event.
One of my weekly tasks is drafting social media content for NeCGA and our local associations. This is the communication aspect of my internship that I knew would push me to expand my abilities. Coming up with graphics was challenging at first and I probably overwhelmed Morgan with all the different options I sent her to review, but over time I’ve gotten more comfortable with creating content, and I’m a professional now! (okay probably not, but we’re getting there).
In the few short months I have been working with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, I have learned so much more than I could have in a classroom, including how to be a better “agvocate”. I’ve already had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with so many new people. I can’t wait to meet more of you at upcoming events such as the annual golf tournament and our ethanol nights at the races! The people of Nebraska Corn are truly some of the most passionate about this industry and they make me even more excited for my future in agriculture!
To check out other intern experiences, click here!