UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences senior Nathalie Yoder is studying agricultural education and communication with a specialization in communication and leadership development. This past fall semester, Yoder completed a joint legislative internship in Washington with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC).
Yoder’s experience was made possible by funds awarded through the Carl Loop Legislative Internship Scholarship, as part of the VP Promise initiative. This initiative provides financial assistance to students who are enriching their education through experiences beyond the classroom, such as internships, studying abroad, presenting research and more.
At NBCA, Yoder was offered a dynamic experience, full of responsibilities that allowed her to see wide-scale impacts on the beef industry. Yoder gained a better understanding of how to work in an office setting with various people, how to do a job well, and how to receive and implement feedback, all valuable skills in the workplace to make her career-ready after she graduates.
“I have enjoyed having a front-row seat to the work NCBA does to reach Congress, located just across the street,” Yoder said. “They say proximity to power is power, and I couldn’t agree more.”
Event planning was Yoder’s favorite aspect of the job, but she also organized mailings, compiled newsletters and press releases, and participated in calls with stakeholders. At the direction of NCBA lobbyists, Yoder also listened to House and Senate committee hearings to find points requiring follow-up or that may pose future issues. She said listening in on these hearings helped her to learn about and understand the legislative process in Washington.
“My time in Washington was incredibly valuable; I have learned so much and gained so many experiences,” Yoder said. “I am grateful to the University of Florida, the Florida agriculture industry and NCBA for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and providing me opportunities to grow. I am so excited to unpack what I have learned and use it in the Sunshine State.”
Although they focus on different areas, PLC and NCBA work on many of the same issues and have similar stakeholders. Being from Florida and unaware of public lands ranching, a significant topic in western states, Yoder said she learned a lot while working for PLC. Public lands ranching has a large impact on the cattle and beef industries in the United States.
“It has been interesting for me to watch the current congressional semester play out from D.C. The current administration is fully focused on conserving the landscape,” Yoder said. “It has been compelling to watch PLC ensure public lands ranchers are recognized as front-line stewards of the land. What a time to observe decision-makers plan the future of American land!”
Yoder said one of her most memorable experiences was meeting with NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. When she asked Woodall what made NCBA stand out, he said, “It’s because everything goes back to our membership; the decisions we lobby for are directed by our members who work with these issues every day.” She found that statement applicable in many scenarios. Yoder said staying grounded and looking at the big picture will take you a long way.
The VP Promise is an initiative to provide financial assistance for students pursuing experiences in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources. CALS supports student success both inside and outside of the classroom and encourages students to broaden their perspectives through enriching opportunities such as study abroad programs and travel to conferences. For more information on the VP Promise visit the CALS website.