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CASNR: We have a place in politics for you

image image For more than a decade Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources students have had a rare opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the nation’s leading political leaders, ranging from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas.) to Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and State Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock).

Norman Hopper, CASNR’s Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, said CASNR’s Government Internship Program is a great way for students to gain real-world political experience. This year 13 interns were chosen to go to either Austin or Washington, D.C. One of those students was selected to work in the offices of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Invaluable Experience. “The experience gained during a semester as an intern has been invaluable to the students,” Hopper said. “Several former interns are now employed by the offices in which they worked.”

Since the program was founded in 1998 more than 65 students have participated, with several continuing to work and stay actively involved in politics and government agencies around the country.

Numerous donors have been instrumental in making CASNR’s Government Internship Program possible including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Texas Corn Producers Board, which originally established the program. Others that have joined in supporting the program are Plains Cotton Growers, Texas Corn Growers, Texas Peanut Producers, Texas Wheat Producers, Dan Taylor, Texas Farm Bureau, and South Texas Cotton and Grain.

Learning The Ropes. Garrett Mathis, a graduate student from Lockney, interned with the House Committee on Agriculture.   He participated in a variety of activities during his time on the Hill; most notably he attended staff meetings, researched agricultural policy for staff members, prepared for committee meetings and attended many briefings with industry leaders.

Along with learning the ropes of how the federal government works, Mathis said he learned more about himself and how to use his time effectively and efficiently. “The best part of the experience was being right in the middle of the planning for the 2007 Farm Bill and having my opinions heard,” Mathis said.

Students who travel to Washington, D.C., live together in one house, which Hopper said is referred to as the “Tech House,” and are given a great opportunity to learn interpersonal skills from living so closely with other interns.

Sign Up. To participate in the CASNR program students must have completed 30 hours of course work by the start of their internship, and have a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.75 at the time of their interview and internship. Once accepted into the program, they’re placed with the political office that best matches the student’s goals and personality. A $4,000 scholarship is available to help defray cost.

Once on the job the students typically give tours to constituents, help set schedules for congressional members and also perform basic office duties. In addition, they may have a special project dealing with legislative issues.

Program Participants. Internship program participants during 2007 included Mathis, Alexandra Torres of Lubbock, Kyle Eppler of Mason, Matthew Hardin of Weatherford, Jessica Stevens of Silver City,  Gina Marie Munch of San Antonio,  Rhea Lynn Leonard of Artesia, NM, and Missi Currier of Carlsbad, NM. 

Others were Justin Stryker of Harlingen, Jacquelyn Morris of Como, Col., Tomas Resendiz of Petersburg,  Jim Bob Steen of Water Valley, Matthew Townsend of Buffalo, and Rebecca Warminski of White Deer.

“CASNR’s interns not only learn the legislative process but also about the world,” Hopper said. “They have the opportunity to travel up and down the East Coast, as well as meet people from all over the world.”

Written by Norman Martin

Contact: Norman Hopper, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs at (806)742-2808 or norman.hopper@ttu.edu

Strong Ties to Leadership
Among the offices that CASNR students have interned in the past five years are:
• U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex)
• U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands)
• U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Tx-31)
• U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland)
• U.S. Sen.  John Cornyn (R-Texas)
• U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo)
• U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
• U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.)
• State Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
• U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth)
• U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx-5)
• U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
• State Rep. Carl Isett (R-Lubbock)
• U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tx-24)
• U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tx-19)
• U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx-21)
• Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Tx-17)
• State Rep. David Swinford (R-Dumas)

 

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