Student’s Summer in DC Exposed Him to New Parts of Policy Making
Written by Brooke Schafer
This past summer Mason Gordon (Senior; Agricultural Economics; Rushville, IN) served as a Government Relations Intern for the Corn Refiners Association in Washington, DC. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) represents the six food companies that wet-mill corn, which produces high fructose corn syrup and several other corn biproducts. In his role, he experienced many aspects of policy, which led him to better understand and realize the importance of rulemaking. Many of CRA’s priorities for this summer revolved around ensuring that new rules were written in a way that would not interfere with their member’s business. In order to do this, they would track the rulemaking process, build coalitions with partners in similar industries, and comment on proposed rules. This also exposed Mason to how important coalitions are, especially within the agriculture industry, when pursuing effective and efficient policy.
Mason’s other responsibilities entailed creating a matrix to rank Members of Congress based on their committees, leadership, and district’s agriculture connection, analyzing information to enhance CRA’s advocacy strategy, and representing CRA at numerous meetings. But his DC experience was so much more than what he learned while on the job. He was consistently exposed to incredible aspects of our nation’s capital each day, including the US Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House. He also lived in an old row house with 15 other DC interns. Because of his internship and farm background, Mason was known as the “Corn Man” in his house and was able to answer their questions about agriculture and the Midwest. In return, he made incredible friends from New Mexico, South Carolina, New York, California, Georgia, and the United Kingdom and was able to learn about their differing experiences.
This experience also helped Mason realize where his true passion lies: rural development. He was very intrigued by all the work he did for CRA, but felt his curiosity peaked even more when he was working on rural issues. He says, “DC opened my eyes to the fact that I'm excited to work in Indiana on policy that affects rural communities.” He also encourages students to pursue internships where they feel they want to establish a career, saying “While I thoroughly enjoyed my internship in DC, I realized that DC is not where I want to pursue a career immediately. The experience brought to light my deep passion for local and state government. I see myself in DC later in my career, but I have an impact to make at the local level first.”