Jun 25
Kendall Herren, Senior in Agricultural Communications

What’s the best thing about internships? Being able to apply the things I have learned in the classroom.  I grew up just west of Sandwich, in the small town of Somonauk, Illinois. I was not raised on a farm, but grew up in the middle of a field that we cash-rent to a local farmer. I was a 4-H member for 11 years and watched friends show their livestock. My sister and I have shown rabbits and sheep for the past few years, and I occasionally helped hold the grand champion chickens at the 4-H livestock auction. We also took photos during the summer in the fields surrounding my house when the corn quickly grew over my five-foot frame. Despite all of this, I never knew much about agriculture until I went to college.

At school I live in 4-H House, a very ‘farm oriented’ sorority. Within my first few weeks, I realized that EVERYONE had showed some type of livestock and everyone lived in the middle of a corn field and I couldn’t help but think how cool that was. At that point, I was hooked. I got involved with the Collegiate Farm Bureau and the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Club, amongst many others, and immersed myself in the industry. I loved it! I became obsessed with attending conferences and seminars, and I loved social media. Every conference I attended I tweeted facts and quotes from well-known agricultural communicators like Holly Spangler and Katie Pratt. Everyone seemed SO passionate!

It was those events that made me realize how much I loved agriculture and how badly I wanted to be a part of this industry. Several conferences and seminars later, I am constantly trying to educate myself. My father laughs at me when I start rambling off facts and information I’ve learned. I get so interested in things like Monsanto’s seed chipper, or asparagus being part of the sunflower family or cattle being habitual animals.

This summer I am the Cook County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Intern—I love it! Last week I had the chance to take part in our first Summer Ag Institute (SAI) for the summer. We had 20 teachers from Cook County take part in tours from the Volkening Heritage Farm to Davidson’s Pasteurized Eggs to Smits Greenhouse and more. Personally, my favorite stop was with the Chicago High School for Ag Sciences.

During the SAI I learned many more facts and found myself once again thirsting for more information. It was a chance for me to take those fun facts and the knowledge I have gained these past few years and apply my communication skills when talking to the teachers. It was great watching them take notes, ask intriguing and hard questions, and more than anything, just learn. I wasn’t the teacher by any means this week, but even as another student of this industry, it has been so REWARDING to watch them absorb all of the information they learn on these tours. They were continuously asking questions about how to incorporate this information into lesson plans and where to find more information. They were taking the information they learn to heart and are beginning to understand the importance of our industry, and the love and passion that all of us in agriculture have for it.

It is moments and opportunities like these that make me love agriculture and the things we do as an industry.

Picture of the binders Kendall put together and a few Illinois Ag in the Classroom Ag Mags.