HOWDY! My name is Carolann (CJ) Wackerlin, and I am excited to be the very first intern for the National Association of Wheat Growers through the Texas A&M Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy internship program. I expect my tasks this summer to be numerous and diverse; the one constant, however, will be to write a weekly blog. This week I begin by introducing myself.
I am and always will be a Texas A&M Aggie, even though I graduated three weeks ago with my Bachelors in Animal Science. Don’t worry though! I’m not headed out into the “real world” just yet. This fall I will be returning to my home state of Illinois and starting law school at Northern Illinois University, a quick 40-minute commute from my parent’s farm.
My dad is the self-employed farmer who started out all on his own in the early ‘80’s. A young newly married man with one cabless tractor, an old disk, and 6 row planter. How he and my mom survived those first tough years I will always wonder. Next month they celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary. My mom, who earned her doctorate, is a curriculum coordinator at a school district nearby. I am the youngest of four children. My two older siblings work and live in Chicago, while my other brother works in the agricultural field, living and working closer to home.
Being from Northern Illinois my family grows primarily corn and soybeans (a challenge this year with all the rain!); however, we have also always baled thousands of bales of hay, raised cattle, and had sheep, pigs, and chickens off and on. I am looking forward to being home this fall to once again help with harvest, but my own personal goal is to start building my own cattle herd/operation. Regardless of my own agriculture background, I believe in the importance of all commodities in the U.S. and am thrilled to be in D.C. just as Farm Bill talk is starting.
Looking towards the future I have three years of law school ahead, plan to earn my MBA concurrently, and hope to follow my passion for agricultural law and policy in some meaningful way after graduation. I don’t know where life will take me, but I know the last few years have taught me to seize every opportunity possible.
Washington D.C. is a vibrant city, and this is a pivotal time in our history. Words cannot adequately express how thrilled I am to have this opportunity to work with leaders in the agricultural field and for this wonderful association. Agriculture is the foundation of our nation’s past, a major part of our present, and will be crucial to our future. It is an industry worth advocating for!