Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7/13 - 7/17

Last week was very interesting as the confeere lists for the House and Senate were released. After seeing the extensive lengths of the lists, it's a safe bet to assume that the buget is going to take a very long time. And since these are all close door meetings, I am glad that I got to be here for all the interesting weeks prior. 

One event I did enjoy this week was being able to attend the Pork Council's Professional Development Event. While there I was able to speak with many representatives from many areas of the pork industry. While I have no initial interest in pusuing a career in pork, I did have many interesting conversations regarding current policy issues, such as the the new WOTUS statute and GMO labling. Since CFSA represents many farmers and suporters of the alternative food movement, it is always intereting to speak with poeple offering a different perspective. 

This week I was also attended a class held by CALS for Cooperative Extension agents, this weeks class was taught by my supervisor on how to identify and address policy issues. This was a great way to see how Cooperative Extension agents are involved in policy, and to see how these individuals are standing up for issues in their communities. 

Another great event I attended was put on by the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation, Gathering for Good. This event is held monthly and brings in many non-profit leaders to discuss a variety of topics. This past months meeting was about the Future of Leadership, and included two key speakers who presented on value-based leadership, a theme that the Leadership Challenge also discusses. It was great to network with individuals in the non-profit sector, as that is an interest of mine, and to hear all the interesting topics people were conversing about. 

Hopfully this week can be just as full and exciting!

Monday, July 13, 2015

7/6 -7/10

This past week was vacation for the NC General Assembly, so for me it consisted of several work at home days and continued meetings for my project.

This past week I was able to meet with Dr. Yoder from 4-H and Dr. West, County Commissioner for District 5, and the Chair of the Board. Both meetings went great.

In the meeting with Dr. Yoder, he brought in several of his colleagues to help give feedback. So the meeting provided a great amount of feedback and advice. One idea that came from that meeting was to gather all the people I have met with and give a formal presentation later next semester to present what I have done with all their suggestions. If this is able to happen, I think it will be a great time accomplishment to be able to present in such a formal setting.

When talking to Dr. West, he brought up a the idea of adding discussion of change models as he had done some previous research with organizational change models. I had never been introduced to this concept before and really appreciated the suggestion. Later our conversation turned towards the need for collective impact in non profits, a topic I have always been interested in and a challenge that is often brought up in my non-profit classes. It was so cool to hear that the same conversations I am having in college are also being had by the leaders in our community. So often, when discussing challenges in society with friends I wonder if anyone else is actually trying to make a change in these areas. It was great to get an answer to that question.

Lastly in the week, I met with Jonathan and Rochelle for a mid-term evaluation. It was so reassuring and nice to hear all the great things that Rochelle had to say about me and to know that my work is appreciated. It only makes me want to work harder. Rochelle does a great job at fortifying her relationships with people by speaking so highly of them - an important aspect of working in a highly connected field, as Dr. Stewart had brought up in one of his previous lectures last semester.

Monday, July 6, 2015

6/29 - 7/3

This past week was pretty slow, currently we are all waiting for conferees to be announced so that the next 2-year budget can be determined. Safe to say everyone was just waiting for the holiday. 

I had several more meetings regarding my summer project and now there are only a few steps left as the curriculum has been completed. I really enjoy being able to meet so many new people and everyone has been so supportive of this project. I have been so happy with the opportunity this internship has given me, and with just a few weeks left I am ensuring that all the loose ends are tied up and this project can be presented to a facilitator and easily comprehended.

With the remaining weeks, I hope to see at least some of the bills we are tracking through the final stages. Kevin Spacey's character in House of Cards promised the President that he would have an education bill through the House and Senate in 100 days- and I now see how unrealistic that expectation is. Being a part of the political system definitely requires patience as making any change to such a large entity as our food system takes many small steps building off each other.

I am appreciative that I have been able to be a part of the larger food movement this summer and I hope I can continue my involvement in a meaningful way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

6/8 - 6/12

There never seems to be a calm week, I really feel like I came in on a great session, full of continual change and always something to work on. 

One thing I don't feel I've hit on is the importance of keeping a low profile. Over the past weeks, I've definitely learned that this is an important skill to have in your arsenal and for me its been something to work on. Simple things like watching who your talking around and never raising your voice in an open room, are actions that I continually have to watch myself on. While watching House of Cards the other day I saw how when characters whisper to share information,  its as if their completely silent. Which is most likely what the actors are doing but its a small goal of mine to be able to do!

This past week on my project, I received great advice during a meeting with Dr. Stewart. He is just really well connected and was able to suggest several people who could help me make strides with this project. I also feel like he does a great job at supporting his students, I always leave meetings feeling like I've made steps forward in my career. I definitely appreciate his involvement in this program and having him as a staff member makes CALS a step ahead of other colleges! 

For the rest of last week I set up meetings with all these new connections and now I am continuing to write curriculum. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This post I have two weeks to cover so I'll hit on several topics.

Update on Leadership Pilot Project: Two weeks ago I met with Adam Culley and Mike Giancola from CSLEPS, I knew them both previously through LeaderShape and ASB. The meeting turned out to be very helpful, and they worked to understand the parts of the program they were unfamiliar with as well as advising on their experience with leadership development. They suggested I follow the Leadership Challenge's 5 Practices and use the Activity Book to enforce the concepts. NC State's library has all of Kouzes and Posner's literature available online, and its great to find that my university is so resourceful. They also gave me some great advice in developing program objectives and surveying our intended population to understand the community needs.

So far, I have been working off these resources and progress is going well. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any programs that are willing to share specific curriculum so I have begun writing it myself, which definitely feels outside my element.

HB 405: The Friday before last we celebrated a great success when the Governor vetoed the Property Protection Act. The contreversy over this bill dealt with the lack of written in protection for individuals who uncover illegal activity. Many Representatives who we talk to last week felt that this bill would not be used against this group. Thinking about the manipulative nature of lawyers deters me from also believing this. This bill came back to the House on Wednesday for an override vote, so our week up until then was dedicated to speaking with Representatives and tallying votes. I was actually able to speak with several Representative on my own, this was a great learning experience for me. Sadly, this bill was overridden by the House on Wednesday by a vote of 79 - 36. Minutes later, the senate went into a special session without any notice to the public. In no time veto was overridden with a vote of 33-15. HB 405 is now law. This was upsetting since we were only down 3 votes in the Senate and had no time to lobby on that side. 

While this was a loss, I was able to work with many other successful lobbyists as we teamed up with several other organizations. I also meet Leilani Munter, a female NASCAR driver who uses her publicity to advocate for her causes. She came down from LA to speak with Representatives with HSUS. 

Overall: This week I received feedback from Rochelle, the policy director I work with, and she was pleased with my work and commitment so far. I was really happy when she said my writing has been very clear, as that is something I have been working on. Rochelle is very good at embodying the fifth practice, Encouraging the Heart. She often thanks me for my work and lets me know when I've done a good job. I know this is something I am not as successful at and I'm glad to have such a positive role model this summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

This past week I found out about my overall project for the summer. I will be working on building a leadership development curriculum that targets individuals involved in food systems work. Our goal is to equip these individuals with the tools they need to become engaged with public policy. This week I wrote up the outline for the program. I pulled from the goals Rochelle described to me and the training I received in LeaderShape, a national program operating out of 70 host schools throughout the US. I then reached out preexisting leadership programs to ask about gathering curriculum. This week I am meeting with several faculty members from CSLEPS. I'm excited to see how this meeting goes, I think it will give me a good idea of what my challenges will be with this project.

 Outside of my work with that I was able to see how organizations can gather a grassroots support over an issue. This week I met three farmers who are members of CFSA. They came to Raleigh to deliver a letter to the Governors office opposing HB 405. All had different backgrounds that lead them to agriculture. Two had previously worked high paying jobs in corporate businesses and the other had a family farm that had been in the family since the 1700's. It was great to see that our members cared enough to make time in their busy lives to come out to simply hand a letter to an office.

This also brought up a catch 22 challenge in agriculture. Though I would love for farmers to become more involved in public policy, they simply just don't have the time for it. This challenge becomes hard to overcome because in order to defend their livelihood in the legislature they must take time away from being actually be successful. I will work to incorporating addressing this problem in the future leadership program.

While reading the Leadership Challenge, the authors talked about how no great accomplishment comes from facing the same routines every day. Only new challenges breed real excellence. So this week I am excited to see how I can "meet challenge with change"!

Monday, May 18, 2015

This week with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has been great. Their Policy Director, Rochelle is really open and makes an effort to engage me in the work they are doing. I already feel like a part of the team! I already have a handle on understanding the life of a bill, and how lobbyist intervein to make a difference. So far, I'm happy with what I have learned and how the week has gone. Hopefully next week I will be able to get started on my summer project!

When learning about the legislative process this week I have had mixed experiences. While I appreciate the thoroughness of the process a bill must go through, I have seen this process fail even within this first week. I was sitting in on a Committee meeting where valid concerns were brought up against a proposed bill by several people. But all the sponsors who were responding to these concerns never really gave any concrete answers and then the bill passed the committee with no objections.  I wish that these discussions were recorded and kept with the statute. This information could be used for future reference by judges who set the precedence for how these laws are interpreted and used. This is very concerning to me and sadly I have already learned of many examples where politics gets in the way of what the political system was laid out to achieve. 

I am interested to learn in the future how active our state's population is in politics. This is a two-way system, and as the people we must do our part in making our voices heard. Otherwise, our system can only do so much and we can not hold it accountable if we do not participate.