“This will be the best internship you will ever experience.”

Upon arriving at Ohio Corn & Wheat, I heard this quote repeatedly, from staff, growers, peers, and past interns. Initially, I brushed it off as an encouragement, but after nine months, I can see what they were saying.

If I had to boil this internship down to four major lessons, they would be:

  1. Your Story Matters. Tell it.
  2. Everything is figure-out-able.
  3. What if we just had fun?
  4. Invest in those around you.

Luke Crumley taught me that how much of an impact a story can make. He points out that statistically, it is the most effective way to show a connection between you and the cause you’re advocating for. I saw this at play in Washington D.C. In a meeting, one of my peers explained to a legislative staffer how a policy can support her taking on her family’s grain operation. That stuck with me, and it stuck with him too. I saw the staffer’s expression soften and the impact hit him. He hung on her every word the rest of the meeting.

Marlene Eick taught me that everything is figure-out-able. She and I were setting up large vinyl banners at grain elevators and ethanol plants. It was windy and the banners kept flying away from us. Unfortunately, the wind combined with the surface area of the banners turned them to parachutes. Finally, by our third try we found a process with some creative problem solving to get the banners in place without blowing away. It was easy breezy!

The team taught me that work can be fun — with the right people. I will do just about anything for a sweet treat. Picture it, a full body corn costume was thrust into my hands in exchange for a Sheetz milkshake. I didn’t hesitate. The video we made that day promoted higher ethanol blends in gasoline, was seen by over 3,000 people, and made the gas station attendants laugh. It’s a choice to have fun at work; a choice I’ll never regret making.

Jessy Woodworth taught me that people matter just as much as the work you do. I get distracted easily and my first instinct is to fidget. She picked up on this quickly and for Christmas got me a fidget toy to use at work to stay focused. It may seem simple — but it felt huge. This taught me to care about those around me. It makes you care about the work you do together. Jessy and the rest of the staff care to see each other succeed because the organization will succeed. Who knew a fidget toy could say so much?

This internship is a lot of work. It’s about more than gaining experience, it’s about making our growers and their farms strong. I feel lucky to be part of an incredible team that helps growers be successful — and it’s not built from average Joes. These folks have turned this internship in to something unique with their stories, creativity, and genuine interest in each other.

I can see now why folks were excited for me to have this internship.

These lessons are just the tip of the iceberg of what Ohio Corn & Wheat has to offer and I’m looking forward to the rest of it! To learn more about the Ohio Corn & Wheat internship program, visit https://ohiocornandwheat.org.