NASDA INTERNSHIP IN WASHINGTON D.C. OFFERS PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
With an interest in policy and a passion for agriculture, Natalie Doelman (Agribusiness: Food Marketing; Elma, WA) knew she wanted to explore the federal agricultural policy space which led her to a fall semester policy internship with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). NASDA is a bipartisan and unified voice for the departments of agriculture from all 50 states and 4 territories. Natalie was drawn to them specifically because she noted, “Agriculture should not be a divisive topic, and I wanted to learn more about how agriculture can be represented as a collaborative industry.”
Throughout the fall semester Natalie interned at NASDA’s office in Arlington, VA just across the river from Washington D.C. Being so close to D.C. was thrilling for her as a self-proclaimed U.S. History fanatic. The first main event for her policy during her semester was the NASDA Annual Meeting held in Saratoga Springs, New York. Here they established policy priorities for the coming months. The other large event was the Tri-National Agricultural Accord which facilitates agricultural cooperation between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico under the USMCA. Here she got to work on the delegate handbook including background information on trade between the countries involved and the issues of discussion. She mentioned, “besides the two major events, I thoroughly enjoyed attending listening sessions, hearings, and working group meetings. Topics included food safety, pesticide regulation, market access, sustainability, rural development, and others. Each organization NASDA engages with brings something unique to the table, and it was impactful to see how various organizations interact with each other.”
A valuable takeaway that Natalie had from this experience is that people are encouraging and genuinely want you to succeed. She also learned that jumping into the unknown can be incredibly fulfilling and it is perfectly normal to be both excited and terrified simultaneously. Because of this experience, Natalie said she has gotten a more holistic view of agriculture while also affirming her interest in the dairy industry. Through NASDA, she met many people she admired and has a broader perspective on career possibilities in agriculture.
Her advice to other students is this: “If you get the opportunity to intern somewhere completely unfamiliar but exciting, do it! This semester was much more about personal growth than professional growth, and I wholeheartedly recommend an experience such as this.”