Aug 06, 2019
Written by Grant Long who interned at USA Rice this summer as part of the Demmer Scholars Program.
ARLINGTON, VA – If you ask me, there’s no better place for a rising senior to spend their last summer in college than Washington DC. I’ve wanted to make Washington my home since the first time I visited when I was 13 years old, and with that goal in mind, I spoke with my career advisor at Mississippi State University about how best to plan for my life after graduation.
As soon as I heard about the Demmer Scholars Program, a program that brings students from Mississippi State and Michigan State Universities interested in natural resource policy together here to intern and study for the summer, I applied immediately. All the “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences I’ve had here were amazing, and I feel extremely blessed to have participated in the Demmer Program.
I met influential lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, and many others. I also got to meet with some of our rice farmers and hear about their issues firsthand. Attending fundraisers and going to meetings and hearings on Capitol Hill were among my favorite activities.
The USA Rice Government Affairs team helped me figure out which areas of policy I’m passionate about and taught me a lot about how to get things accomplished here. I did a great deal of research on how various policies effect the everyday lives of people involved in the rice industry, and was able to see that research in action on conference calls and in meetings on Capitol Hill. Being able to meet with legislators on behalf of the rice industry has given me a practical perspective of lawmaking that years of studying political science just touched on.
At the beginning of the summer, I was told that Washington was a “big city, but a small town.” And, at first, I was skeptical. However, as the summer went on I realized how true that statement really is. Within each area of public policy there’s a tight-knit community that resembles a small town. No matter what you study or what your interests are, there is a group of dedicated people in Washington working on behalf of that cause every single day. The connections and relationships I made at USA Rice and in the microcosm of ag policy will be invaluable as I (eventually) make my way back to Washington to work on behalf of folks across America.
In the meantime, I look forward to bringing the knowledge I gained and the experiences I had in the “big city” back to my “small town” of Starkville, Mississippi, as I complete my degree.