An internship in Washington, D.C., has taught John Stewart two things when it agricultural policy: Work hard, he says, and stay flexible.
Stewart is among two young men with ties to NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who served in public policy internships in the nation’s capital this semester.
Stewart, a December 2015 graduate in agricultural education, worked with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, while CALS senior Brandon Honeycutt got an insider’s look at the legislative process through an internship with U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry’s minority staff.
Creating an agricultural public policy pipeline
Their involvement on Capitol Hill is evidence of the increased emphasis CALS has placed on providing students with opportunities to engage in public agricultural leadership. The best example is its Adolph Warren Leadership Program, a first-of-its-kind program aimed at developing agricultural leaders interested in public policy. Started a year ago, the program calls for participating fellows to take part in a summer internship related to state-level agricultural policy.
For Honeycutt, a couple of significant internship experiences preceded his latest gig: He’d served as an intern in Washington for then-Congressman Mike McIntyre and for Elanco Animal Health’s government affairs division.
Honeycutt grew up in Spivey’s Corner and graduated Saturday with a degree in agricultural business management. He credits his grandfather, a veteran and farmer, for instilling in him a deep appreciation not just for agriculture but also public service.
He’s now working to turn that appreciation into a career that will allow him to help ensure the success of the U.S. agriculture industry.
Doing what’s right for agriculture and consumers
Honeycutt sees agriculture “as a vehicle to address many of the economic and social issues currently facing our nation.”
“I care deeply about U.S. producers, but also for U.S. consumers seeking access to agricultural products,” he says. “Access to an adequate, nutritious food supply means that people will be healthier and more productive.”
Stewart also expressed concerns about ensuring that the world’s people have adequate access to food. He plans to pursue a career in agricultural policy development and advocacy.
The biggest thing Stewart’s learned from his internship? The political and public policy process, he says, can take more or less time than you expect, so it’s best to be flexible.
“Staying flexible allows us to work on a variety of competing deadlines and working hard to make that final push,” he says, “to do what’s right for agriculture.”
— D. Shore