MURRAY, Ky. — Several students in the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University have made their childhood dreams a reality.
Fueled by their passion for agriculture, Ally Grote, Sydney Hunter and Cassidy Neal completed summer internships with regional and national organizations in the agriculture industry.
“I was raised on a cattle farm, and I knew from a young age I wanted to work with cattle and horses,” Grote said. “Animal nutrition has become my passion.”
Ally Grote is a junior from Bowling Green, Missouri, studying animal science. Beginning in May 2018, Grote worked with Purina Animal Nutrition in Labadie, Missouri. Her main responsibility was to conduct a market analysis on beef cattle, equine operations and farms.
“I was able to go outside and interact with a variety of cattle farmers and equine owners,” Grote said. “Through this, I have been able to gain their perspective on why farmers and ranchers favor one product over another.”
At the end of her 12-week internship, she traveled to Minnesota to present her research to a panel of Purina Animal Nutrition employees.
After graduation, Grote aspires to apply her knowledge of ruminant nutrition to work for a feed company — maybe even Purina.
“Murray State has given me the courage to aim high when seeking internships,” Grote said. “My internship with Purina Animal Nutrition has been extremely helpful in networking and preparing me for my dream career.”
Sydney Hunter has been dreaming of a career in agriculture since joining her local 4-H chapter.
“I realized there were so many facets of agriculture to become passionate about,” Hunter said. “4-H opened my eyes and really made me want to be an advocate for agriculture.”
Hunter is a graduate student from Evansville, Indiana, studying agricultural science. She spent her summer as an operations management trainee for Archer Daniels Midland, a grain processing company in St. Louis. Most of her days were spent at the company’s grain elevator, completing tasks ranging from organizing electrical panels to assisting in company-wide safety trainings.
By working alongside managers on special projects, Hunter was able to develop her soft skills of leadership and communication. The hard skills of working in a grain elevator, such as operating a conveyer or measuring materials, were exposed to Hunter in her agriculture classes at Murray State.
“The basic classes required in the agriculture department really helped me with my understanding of a grain elevator,” Hunter said. “Grain is not something I ever saw myself doing, but I am so glad I got out of my comfort zone and pushed myself to try new things.”
Hunter’s post-graduation plans are to work as an animal nutritionist or feed sales representative. By gaining hands-on experience in grain processing this summer, she is confident she will have an advantage over applicants in the job market.
“I think pursuing an internship is important because you’re able to get real world experience on top of your schooling,” Hunter said. “If you think you’re even remotely interested, apply!”
Like Hunter, Cassidy Neal found the excitement of agriculture in a similar organization: Future Farmers of America (FFA).
“While I was in FFA, I was exposed to a variety of agriculture fields and really became interested in horticulture,” Neal said.
Neal is a senior from Murray studying agriculture education. For six weeks of her summer, she traded working in Kentucky’s fields and farms for a seat at the U.S. Capitol: interning for Congressman James Comer, the state representative for Kentucky’s first district.
“As an agriculture fellow, I did the traditional intern work but also had the opportunity to attend hearings, briefings and meetings with Congressman Comer’s agriculture constituents,” Neal said.
Neal’s work on the national level afforded her the opportunity to give tours of the U.S. Capitol, network with industry leaders and gain a new perspective on agricultural education.
“My favorite part of the internship was meeting with various agriculture constituents,” Neal said. “They had such interesting stories and were incredibly knowledgeable about their fields. I was able to learn a lot about Kentucky agriculture even when I was in D.C.”
The impact of this internship will not stop with Neal but will continue on throughout her career as an agriculture educator.
“This internship allowed me to learn a lot about agriculture policy and the political aspects of the industry,” Neal said. “These experiences will be beneficial to tell students in my future classroom.”