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Land O’ Lakes program helps ABE student find certainty in an uncertain world

Brand new passport? Check.

Yellow fever vaccine? Check.

New luggage? Check.

COVID-19. Check.

Katherine Krick, a rising junior in agricultural and biological engineering, was prepared to leave the U.S. for her first ever international journey this summer. Krick was one of six students nationally selected for Land O’ Lakes Global Food Challenge – Emerging Leaders for Food Security. The program typically includes an internship in one of Land O’ Lakes four divisions and two to four weeks of international travel. Krick and her cohort were slated to travel to Kenya and Rwanda for two weeks this summer.

Of course, the pandemic confounded most summer plans this year, including for Krick and her peers. An internship based in Minnesota with exciting opportunities for travel quickly morphed in to a remote internship conducted entirely from her family home in Highland, Ind.

“It is a fundamental human right to have access to food, but domestically and globally that’s not a reality. It upsets me. What person doesn’t deserve food? There’s only one answer: no one.”

Even though her internship took unanticipated turns, Krick said her experience with the Emerging Leaders program was anything but a disappointment. For two months, Krick worked closely with interns around the country and tapped experts at Land O’ Lakes for their insights into issues from dairy distribution to global food insecurity.

“I was nervous about the virtual component, but it ended up being an experience that allowed me to feel really connected to other people,” Krick said. “Walking away from this I understood that it’s possible to network and collaborate with people who aren’t in your vicinity. You don’t have to be face to face to learn something or create a lasting relationship.”

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Katherine Krick, a junior in ABE.

The intense online experience also prepared her for the fall 2020 semester at Purdue, which will offer a hybrid model of in-person and online classes.

“I’m someone who really enjoys doing hands on work so this was hard for me to wrap my head around at first,” she admitted. “But this internship did help me understand how to be productive and structure my time in this environment. It showed me it is possible to social distance and still produce good work. Everything is changing every day and nothing is certain, but I do feel more certain in my ability to be flexible and work with the resources you have.”

Krick spent her internship working in the Dairy Foods division of Land O’ Lakes, researching how the company can enhance access to markets in higher education. Krick explained that the company manufactures animal feed as large-scale agricultural products, like fertilizers. “It’s not just butter,” she said.

While Krick found the work with the dairy foods division engaging, she said she is also interested in the animal feed sector as she has a strong interest in horses and is pursuing a minor in animal sciences.

Ultimately, however, what drove Krick to the Emerging Leaders program is her passionate belief that everyone should not only have enough food to survive but also should receive safe, nutritional sustenance. Industries like Land O’ Lakes support that mission, Krick said, in their work to end food insecurity, and also to take a bird’s eye view of agriculture and how it acts as the lynchpin of nearly every society.

“I love food and cooking and I feel like everyone should be able to enjoy those basic things,” she added. “It is a fundamental human right to have access to food, but domestically and globally that’s not a reality. It upsets me. What person doesn’t deserve food? There’s only one answer: no one.”

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