Posted: January 13, 2017 2:05 PM
Brianna Roberts served the agricultural community in Washington, D.C.
Brianna spent last summer in Washington, D.C. serving under Senator Isakson as part of the CAES Congressional Agriculture Fellowship. Because we are now accepting applications for 2017 fellows, we asked Brianna a few questions about her experience in D.C. and her advice for CAES students looking to become involved in policy.
Why did you apply to be an Ag Fellow?
When I transferred in to UGA in fall 2015, I wanted to make sure that I soaked up all the College of Ag had to offer. After talking to some friends, who introduced me to multiple activities such as study abroad and student-led organizations, the Congressional Agricultural Fellowship was brought to my attention. While I attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, I had been fortunate enough to complete an internship working for an agricultural group in Washington, D.C. and because I knew I had a passion for agriculture and policy, I figured the ag fellowship program allowed me the perfect opportunity to combine those two passions and represent that state of Georgia.
What was your daily schedule like serving in Johnny Isakson’s office?
My daily schedule working in Senator Isakson’s office consisted of a multitude of tasks. Every morning I was tasked with compiling “Ag Clips.” The clips consisted of news story summaries and agricultural futures for selected crops, for the day. After the ag clips were sent out, my duties for the day began to vary. On any given day I could be writing memos for Senator Isakson and his staff about upcoming meetings, attending hearings and briefings to gather information important to Georgians, answering letters constituents had written, or attending various meetings with staff. No two days were alike and everyday gave me the opportunity to learn more about policy and government, while representing Georgia and the agriculture industry.
What was your favorite aspect of the internship?
My favorite aspect of the internship was the opportunity to take my two passions and combine them into worthwhile work, while representing Georgia and its number one industry. Because the program is called the Agricultural Fellowship, I worked with agricultural issues specifically, which is a luxury most Washington, D.C. interns do not get. This program allowed for me the opportunity to combine my in class teachings and my out-of-class experience, in a real work place scenario, that was centered around my future career. While I was able to work with other areas of interest while in D.C., I enjoyed being able to use my experiences and gain new ones while being an advocate for agriculture.
How do you think being an Ag Fellow impacted your future?
In short, serving as an Ag Fellow helped me determine where I truly wanted to go in my future career. Because of my time as an Ag Fellow, I have decided to pursue a career working for an agricultural interest group to serve as a voice for the farmer and rancher in the political realm. With farmland shrinking every day and the population continuing to grow, it is important to have an advocate for American agriculture in political realm to make sure that the farmer’s voice is heard. This program allowed me to realize how important it is for farmers and ranchers to have a voice in Congress and helped me determine that I want to play a continued role in preserving American agriculture from a political standpoint.
What’s your advice to a student who is interested in the Ag Fellowship program?
My advice for students interested in the ag fellowship program is that if you have any type of interest in public relations, policy, or in agriculture in general, you should apply! This program allows students a hands-on opportunity to see how laws are made and how congress works, while paying special attention to Georgia’s number one industry. This program also allows you the opportunity to network and make connections with people from all over the country in all different interest areas and even if you aren’t necessarily interested in politics, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. Washington, D.C. isn’t all politics and if you have an interest in advocating for agriculture on a bigger scale, the agricultural fellowship program is definitely something you should consider.