Laney Mulhollen, a UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) junior, was an intern in Congressman Greg Steube’s office in Sarasota, Florida this past summer. Mulhollen is studying natural resource conservation in the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences (FFGS).
As a congressional intern, Mulhollen’s responsibilities included answering phones, researching legislation and assisting constituents with their cases. She worked closely with the agriculture and natural resources staff on issues related to citrus, coastlines and other environmental issues.
In addition, Mulhollen worked on several special projects over the course of her internship. With Hurricane Ian making landfall less than a year ago, relief efforts are still a major issue. Since March, Rep. Steube has been working to pass a tax relief bill for those affected by Hurricane Ian. Mulhollen had an integral role in the effort.
“Working in the office has allowed me to closely follow the progress of the legislation, learn the details about the legislative process, and keep constituents up-to-date about the progress of the bill so they can receive tax relief when it is eventually signed into law,” said Mulhollen.
Mulhollen was also able to attend various events around Rep. Steube’s district. In June, she attended the 2023 Watershed Summit hosted by the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership. In the meeting, they discussed the implications Hurricane Ian had on Southwest Florida’s waters and coastlines.
Another event Mulhollen attended was a debate hosted by the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club. The group discussed the Midnight Pass, which allowed water to flow into Little Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. After its closure in 1983, the Pass became a controversial environmental issue. With a background in natural resources, this topic peaked Mulhollen’s interest.
“There have been long and heated debates since then on whether to reopen it or keep it closed, pertaining to the overall health of the bay and if it would be beneficial or not,” said Mulhollen. “The panel of experts was very knowledgeable about the issue and provided great points, both in support of and against the reopening of Midnight Pass.”
As an intern, Mulhollen learned more about the inner-workings of the American government system. Through her internship, she developed knowledge of current issues, services offered by federal agencies and how congressmen aid their communities.
“Leaving the internship, I know I am much more knowledgeable about governmental affairs and issues and am prepared to make an impact upon my graduation, hopefully working in agricultural or natural resource policy,” said Mulhollen.
Mulhollen’s internship experience was funded by the Loop Legislative Internship Scholarship, a resource under the VP Promise. These programs fund experiential learning opportunities for CALS students around the world.
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.