Summer Intern Reflects on Her Roots and Role in Feeding the World

By Jordan Anderson, a sophomore at The University of Wyoming

As cliché as this sounds, it seems like just yesterday I began my summer internship with the Center for Dairy Excellence and Dairy Excellence Foundation. To say I have enjoyed it would be an understatement. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunities, mentors, and experiences that this internship gave me, along with the ability to spend the summer at home. As a college student in Wyoming for most of the year, there is no feeling quite like coming home to Central Pennsylvania.

There was truly never a day that I dreaded going to work. I felt like I had a purpose for each day, and that fueled me to work passionately and persistently on my projects. I developed new skills and sharpened the tools I already had. I felt valued in the work I was contributing to both organizations. Most importantly, I had the pleasure of working with a team full of talented individuals who all embraced me with open arms. The takeaways from this summer are far more than I ever expected and here’s a few:

  • Never be afraid to ask questions
  • Say “yes” and let God figure out the rest
  • Make the most of the time and talents the Lord has given you
  • Always find the joy in the journey

My first experiences with the organization were at Ag Progress Days one year. I was walking through, and “Dairy Excellence” caught my eye. I grew up showing dairy and participating in quiz bowl contests but had never heard of this group. Naturally, I had to stop and see what this dairy booth was all about. I spoke with staff about the opportunities within the Center and Foundation. The internships and scholarships were of great interest to me, and I had hopes of pursuing them in the future. Fortunately, last year I was able to apply for and receive a Student Leader Scholarship. I had heard great things about the office internships from past interns and hoped to apply. Now, I understand why they spoke so highly of the experience. I, too, would recommend this internship to any young person who is passionate about dairy, serving others, and advocating for the industry.

This experience has been crucial to my personal and professional development as a young person in the dairy industry. I grew in my communication and critical-thinking skills as well as task management. Personally, I found myself with the ability to reflect on several scenarios and gleam life advice from those around me. A culmination of past experiences in FFA, 4-H, Junior Holstein, school, sports, and past internships all brought me to this chapter in my life with the Center. I believe that the Center has refined and molded me in unique ways to prepare me for the chapters to come.

I have been saying for over two years now that I want to have a communications role within the dairy industry. Several scholarship and internship applications have mentioned my goal to help bridge the gap between producers and consumers. This is all still true, but there was a new spark for it all that took off throughout my internship work. Many of my projects related directly to what I hope to do in my career. My assignments ranged from social media content creation to podcast editing and photography to lesson/activity development for school programs. As a student majoring in agriculture communications, this work was valuable as I look to expand my portfolio. My work gave me validation that this truly is what I want to do and it gave me a whole new perspective towards that.

When I think about this summer, I will never forget the uniqueness of it. I worked in the office some but also remotely from my home in Centre Hall, PA. I believe that this generation has a unique outlook on the world as to how we work and approach things. In the future, I hope to learn more about different writing styles as I continue to fine-tune my own. I want to gain understanding of other industries/agricultural commodities so that I can see how they all connect to feed our growing population.

While this summer refined me, I would be remiss if I failed to mention those who sparked my passion for agriculture and dairy and shaped me along the way. Thank you to my parents, Don and Angela Anderson, for supporting me in each endeavor I’ve pursued. Thank you for instilling the importance of working hard and staying true to myself. You’ve helped add fuel (the support I needed) to burn a fire within me for each of my passions. Thank you to my sister, Jillian, for being my best friend even if it wasn’t always like that growing up. You encourage me in so many ways. I will miss seeing you (almost) every day and the sweet notes you leave for me on my computer. Everyone needs a cheerleader like you in their life. I owe a great deal of thanks to my friends, both near and far, and mentors who have been in all seasons of my life. I’m appreciative of the quality education and training that I have received thus far and look forward to the many ways I can still grow for the future.

As I transition back to college as a sophomore/junior at the University of Wyoming, I’m going to be 1,500 miles from my home in Central Pennsylvania. I will not be around the dairy industry as much, but the passion for it shall not be shaken. The experiences I have and will continue to gain out west are irreplaceable, but I strive to always remember where I came from. The Zac Brown Band said it best, “My roots always keep me grounded… remind me where I’m from. Even when I’m a thousand miles away from my roots, I’m home.”