This year has presented many new experiences, challenges, and opportunities. One of the “firsts” that the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) experienced was having their first virtual intern. NAWG hosts a university-level intern every semester, and this summer was no exception. NAWG was joined by Molly Luhrs, a senior Agricultural Economics major at Texas A&M University. Molly completed her internship by teleworking from her family’s farm in Imperial, Nebraska. On their farm, the Luhrs’ produce wheat, ancient grains, oats, millet, and peas. Molly spent 5 summers working on the farm, scouting fields, cleaning seed, and managing the scale house. Already having experience in production agriculture, Molly was excited to explore the advocacy and policy side of agriculture.
The experience and knowledge in the wheat industry Molly already had was beneficial this summer when NAWG tasked her with different issues. Molly had an interest in sustainability and conservation when she began her internship. Molly’s background in conservation was beneficial for NAWG policy staff as she was able to provide a unique perspective. Conservation is an area of agriculture that Molly enjoys, and the different techniques of preserving the land for future generations is something that Molly is eager to learn about and share with others.
While already having an interest in wheat production and agriculture policy, Molly still found tasks in her internship which were out of her comfort zone. One of the biggest newfound interests of Molly’s was trade. She had the opportunity to sit in on many meetings that talked about agricultural trade. For example, right before the U.S. Mexico-Canada-America (USMCA) agreement took effect, Molly attended a PAC event for Representative Adrian Smith, the representative of her home district in Nebraska, where he received many questions related to USMCA. She also listened to the Senate Finance Committee Hearing with U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer where Lighthizer answered many questions about the President’s 2020 Trade Agenda. Trade is a topic that Molly came into the internship with a little knowledge but left with a much better understanding.
Molly also spent some of her time helping with communications tasks like content for social media, NAWG’s weekly updates, and blog posts. Molly mentioned that she enjoyed doing these types of tasks because she believes that communication is the most important part of agriculture. Just like any field, agriculture can be difficult to understand if you’re not in the middle of everything. Working on the communication tasks gave Molly insight on how to advocate for wheat and give a voice to farmers.
While it was not a typical internship, Molly’s internship with NAWG was a great opportunity. She gained experience, knowledge, and mentors during her time. In the midst of a pandemic, it was an unforgettable and beneficial experience.