Judene Kern, ABEM senior student details her internship experience in Washington, D.C. over the 2018 summer.
Judene Kern in D.C.
In the Spring 2018 semester, I decided to apply for a national internship program and was ultimately selected to participate. During summer 2018, I travelled to Washington, D.C. so that I may start my internship, with the assistance and support of The Washington Center (TWC), a D.C. based internship placement and professional development non-profit organization. I am a Navy Veteran pursuing a bachelor of science degree in Agribusiness Economics and Management and was one of twenty-five student Veterans chosen to participate in the Veterans Employment Trajectory initiative, V.E.T. Including myself, there were three University of Arizona students within this program as well. TWC partnered with Prudential Financial to provide an opportunity for Veterans to enhance their employability and gain confidence in their professional and academic skills. The program emphasizes effective communication and networking practices along with laying a strong foundation of professional development training on social media presence/branding, resume building, and interviewing techniques.
In its second summer installment, the goal of V.E.T. is to assist and support transitioning Veterans who are in school seeking a higher education degree and joining the civilian workforce. The program director, Michael Doerr, works one on one with the student interns to find a personalized internship site. With his placement recommendation, I was assigned as a Research Assistant (RA) with The Chwat Group, a government relations firm, so that I may gain experience and knowledge in policy making and lobbying influences.
During the week, I worked Monday thru Thursday 9-5 at my internship site. Working as a RA involved many hours of research and reports for various projects. I spent this time exchanging emails and paper mail, attending hearings and talking both on the phone and in person with congressional staff members. I most enjoyed my time researching, at the Library of Congress, The Archives, and The Foundation Center. On Fridays, I would attend classes through TWC. We have learned from and connected with more than sixty speakers all with various roles; some are job recruiters, others are psychologists who specialize in development, CEO’s, motivational speakers, and life coaches. TWC interns were given the opportunity to spend a weekend at Prudential headquarters in Newark meeting the executives that founded and provided financial support of the V.E.T. initiative.
Research and Development in Cellular Agriculture
Briefing hosted by Congressman Bill Foster
Bill Foster collaborated with the Good Food Institute, New Harvest, Memphis Meats, and Tufts University to offer a congressional plea for federal funding for cultured meat. Cultured meat is cell based meat, grown from animal cells. Private funding from the likes of Bill Gates and other major investors have catapulted this new industry in an unconventional way. Stakeholders are confident of the sustainability of cellular agriculture and have now placed the industry on the map in a very public way.
I found the briefing hosted by Congressman Bill Foster to be informative because the future of food is an often talked about topic in the agriculture industry and the science community is getting their hands in the pie too. The future of farming is not going to look the same as farming does today. Just like, today's farming is not the same as farming 100 years ago. For instance, there will be much more people to feed and exponentially less natural resources to do it with in the future.
At this panel event, speakers discussed this new development of agriculture and science. They also addressed ways the current agriculture business can support them as well as other external impacts like laws, regulations, and trade. Businesses and organizations in cellular agriculture are recruiting for agricultural students as well as science majors.
The Society for International Development - Washington
Wine Tasting from Developing Countries: A Joint Event for a Young Professional Network and Food Security & Agriculture Workgroup
The Society for International Development (SID) Washington hosted a wine tasting and networking event. It was co-hosted by Chemtronics and USAID, both of which are hot on the DC ag-scene this summer. They host events often and are doing amazing work spreading the news about developing nations and agriculture. USAID was actually handing out “USAID’s Legacy” card stocks at the event; rightfully so, boasting about their time and work in development.
The event featured winemaker donated, Domaine Des Tourelles wine from Lebanon. They used this event to connect challenges of the MENA Region with businesses like wine making. Many wines are created in countries that are not fully developed. Winemaking has a positive effect on the various country’s economy since it adds significant value to grape crops.
Since I have found an interest in water conservation, I asked about ways technology can be used in developing nations to conserve water. Diana Caley, the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist of USAID and I talked about ways arid lands, like Arizona, are being used to research dry areas to answer these kind of questions.
Hearing on the Effects of Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture and Rural Communities
I attended the hearing on the impact of tariffs in agriculture and I was even caught on C-SPAN! Many ag influencers and representatives gave a powerful testimony about how they and their community are personally impacted by the economic choices made by the Government. I got to meet two panelists, one was the former Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration, Jared Bernstein. Many testimonies this day echoed Mr. Bernstein’s when saying, “the economic impact of the trade war is, by its nature, a moving target, and this creates an uncertain climate... the actual and potential impacts on farming and rural areas have been considerably more noticeable than the overall, economy-wide impacts.”
Judene Kern makes an appearance on C-SPAN!
Among the many other connections I made this summer, I also had an opportunity to befriend passionate guerilla gardeners who have taken over long-abandoned community garden spots to grow food for the community. They donate their time and also work with donated soil and plants. This location was on the opposite corner from where I was staying while interning. Also, there was a pokestop and I would frequent the location often. I noticed the community’s interest in the garden project. Locals would often comment about the garden and start a conversation with us. They would often reminisce about the gardening they have been or want to be doing and asked how they can help. They love the project and their community because of it. Gardening is much more fun when it is an act of protest.
“The garden helps me network because people don’t want to talk to people that talk about doing something, they want to talk to people doing.”
Overall, this entire experience went beyond professional development with the vigorous educational aspect and enlightening discussions, it was also an empowering experience that will not be forgotten.
All photos are shared from Judene Kern's original photos.