The Georgia Department of Agriculture is accepting applications to its 2024 Internship Program for college and post-secondary education students from across the state.
The program is open to students enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution in Georgia or who have graduated within one calendar year of the desired internship timeframe. Applications are now being accepted through Feb. 12, 2024, for internships scheduled from May through July.
Students interested in participating in the program can inquire through email using email@example.com. Complete information about the internship program and application requirements can be found on the GDA website at https://agr.georgia.gov/internship-opportunities.
Summer Williams, GDA’s Food Safety Rapid Response Team program manager, and Derrick Lastinger, GDA’s Structural Pest Control program director, oversee the Department’s internship program.
A general interest in Georgia agriculture is preferred. While an educational background in the study of agriculture is optional, it may be desired for certain available internship opportunities.
Williams explained that the program offers a wide range of experiences across all of GDA’s divisions and programs and covers a variety of disciplines in the sciences, administration and communications.
“The Internship Program is an opportunity for students from across the state to join our department for the summer and learn more about what we do in the different divisions,” Williams said. “I say even if a student joins to work for one division, they can cross-train and learn about all of the divisions in the Department. I think that is something really special because they are not siloed into doing one specific area of work.”
Williams said the program’s goals are twofold: To provide an opportunity for students to prepare for work after their studies and to help GDA recruit more students into full-time or part-time positions within the Department.
This year, GDA hosted 10 interns from 50 applications received. Along with working at the Department, the program organizes field trips. Interns will meet Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper and visit the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park. Interns also will tour the Georgia State Capitol building, State Operations Center for Emergency Management, Georgia Poultry Lab, and farms and dairies.
Williams added that last summer’s tour included visiting the Atlanta Humane Society to tie in with GDA’s Animal Health Division and the Georgia Poison Control Center tied in with the Department’s work in Food Safety and input regulation for herbicides and pesticides.
“We try to dabble in the different parts of the Department. We kick off with the interns meeting the Commissioner and touring the Capitol building,” Williams said.
Natalie Hobbs was an intern this summer and continues working at the GDA while completing her master’s degree in public health at Emory University. She said what she liked the best was the diversity offered during the program. She interned with GDA’s Food Safety and did things with Animal Industry and Emergency Management.
“You can make it your own program. If you wanted to only do stuff within your department or division, you can, but if you want to branch out and make it more interdisciplinary, you can, and that is what I really enjoyed,” Hobbs said. “I do enjoy an interdisciplinary experience. I don’t want just to do the same thing every single day.”
She added that working part-time at the Department this fall has allowed her to learn even more.
“Now that I am doing more than just my deliverables and projects for Summer, I have been able to talk to people in the profession, especially going to conferences and talking to people in the industry, in academia, and in government and getting a well-rounded experience of what food safety can look like. It’s been a really cool experience.”