My Busy Summer as a Governmental Relations Intern

Joseph Degreenia, a rising Junior at Virginia Tech, just wrapped up his final week as intern for the Governmental Relations Department, and he wanted to share his experiences this summer with you. Thanks for a great job this summer, Joseph! Good luck at Tech!
Andrew Smith and Joseph Degreenia (right) work on Virginia
Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC interviews
This summer I have had the opportunity to intern with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation in the Governmental Relations Department.  It has been a very rewarding experience and has allowed me to be involved in one of the many behind-the-scenes factors that play a vital role in agriculture.
I grew up in a suburban area in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and I joined 4-H when I was 9 years old. Being an active member in 4-H taught me valuable skills including public speaking, leadership and responsibility. It eventually led me to become the President of Maryland 4-H, and I traveled to Tanzania to help them with their 4-H program.
I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, but I didn’t have a farm to go back to after college. So that’s what led me to Virginia Tech. I knew that there were many opportunities to explore there. After my first year I knew that I no longer had the desire to become a veterinarian, and with the help of the great advisors in the Dairy Science department, I decided to get a double major in Political Science. This opened up a whole new door of opportunities, and I discovered my interest in policy development.

This summer I was able to explore my interest in agricultural policy as I was able to attend a variety of events with the Farm Bureau lobbyists while focusing mainly on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC. I attended various policy and stakeholder meetings with the Farm Bureau team while having conversations with other industry leaders around the state and country. These meetings involved issues including MAP 21, Department of Environmental Quality funding, the Right to Farm, broadband coverage and many other hot topic issues in the Virginia agricultural industry.  
One of my favorite experiences was attending the Rural Jobs Council meeting with Vice President Martha Moore. It was very interesting to hear the reports and ideas on issues affecting rural Virginia. Afterwards we were invited to a reception at the Governor’s Mansion, and I had the opportunity to speak with Governor McDonnell about agricultural issues.
My main responsibility was working with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC. I was tasked with organizing interviews for potential endorsements with Farm Bureau members and candidates for the House of Delegates races across rural Virginia throughout the month of July. I wrapped these meetings up in the beginning of August with our interviews with urban races. One of the highlights of this internship was when I traveled to Northern Virginia to help interview candidates in some of those urban races. The AgPAC is very beneficial to farmers around Virginia because it allows farmers to ask questions that specifically affect agriculture.   
Andrew Smith and I also visited American Farm Bureau where we spoke with their staff about the importance of Agricultural Political Action Committees across the country. I also had the opportunity of meeting the American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman and talked about my experiences this past summer. 
I was able to stay through the whole AgPAC process, and I attended the AgPAC board meeting. It was a great opportunity to hear the gubernatorial candidates again, as well as all of the other statewide candidates speak about agricultural issues.
The wit, humor and strong personalities from the entire governmental relations department at the Bureau made me feel welcome and at home and made working out of a cube not so bad after all. Wherever the future takes me after college, I know that I will never forget the skills and experiences that I had this past summer with the Virginia Farm Bureau. 

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