NAMA President Mary Waters, Vice-President Jim Bair and Director of Government Relations Sherri Lehman led ConAgra interns Trenton Jacobs, Aaron Kuhlman, Patricia Reyes and Wilkins-Rogers, Inc. intern Jack Peterson to congressional and agency offices where they had the opportunity to advocate research, efficient mill operations, biotechnology, food aid, farm policy and the nutrition benefits of grain-based foods.
Bill Stoufer, president, ConAgra Mills, Jennifer Harnish, regional human resources manager, ConAgra Mills and Aaron Black, director of operations Wilkins-Rogers, Inc., also serving as an officer of the International Association of Operative Millers, accompanied the interns.
The offices visited included Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, Representatives Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder, the House Agriculture Committee, the Office of Pesticide Programs at the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Bakers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers.
The NAMA Executive Committee approved the idea for the trip last May as an effort to show interns working in member mills the connection between their work in the mills and the legislation and regulations guiding their work.
"NAMA is committed to investing in the future through research and educating the next generation of millers. It is important for students to be aware of the current issues affecting milling operations and future issues that will affect them later when they lead the industry," said Waters. "This was the pilot year for our 'Future Millers Public Policy Experience.' The Executive Committee will review the success of the trip and then work on plans for next year."
"NAMA's 'Future Millers Public Policy Experience' will help students gain a better understanding of the important issues impacting the total market and give them valuable experience for their future career," said Stoufer. The interns were selected as outstanding contributors in ConAgra’s annual summer intern program. More than 14 ConAgra interns made presentations about their internship experience including: reviewing results from project assignments, providing summer program assessments and sharing their day-to-day learning within the manufacturing environment before a group of company executives. Three were selected to go to Washington.
Jacobs and Peterson are enrolled in the Milling Science and Management program at Kansas State University (KSU). Kuhlman is enrolled in the Industrial Engineering program at KSU and Reyes is in the Food Science and Industry program at Iowa State University.
KSU and NAMA have a long history of working together to educate future generations of millers. NAMA recently announced a commitment to fund a new NAMA Instructor of Milling.