The Florida Cattlemen’s Association internship database has gained traction fast and is helping students cultivate experience that could lead to careers within the agriculture industry.
Erik Jacobsen, past Florida Cattlemen’s Association president, spent his year of service focusing on building leaders for the future of the Florida cattle industry. Jacobsen and the FCA executive board of directors created the internship database because they saw a need for connecting students to industry professionals.
“Erik really wanted to implement the program because of his own personal experiences, and the board was in full support,” said FCA board member Alex Johns.
Johns is the First American Ranch National Resource Director for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. He employs five interns and said interns are important for the success of the Florida cattle industry.
“Having interns not only helps them gain experience, but also gives us, as employers, a different and model perspective for what students are learning in the classroom,” Johns said.
Jacobsen had the idea to create the database because of his personal experience of breaking into the Florida agriculture industry. Jacobsen said his family was not involved in agriculture but had a neighbor who owned a cattle ranch a little ways from where they lived in Lakeland, Florida, where he began to work at a young age.
“Whether it’s somebody who grows up on a ranching operation that is not big enough to support the next generation and they need to get a job working for somebody else or it’s someone who did not grow up in the industry, internships are a good way to break into the industry,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said internships are beneficial to both students and employers. Internships benefit students in three major ways according to Jacobsen. The first is they give students a chance to gain hands-on experience. The second is they give students a chance to start building a network, and the third is they give students a chance to see if that is what they really want to do.
“Internships give employers a chance to see if the person fits their organization and also provides a low cost temporary employee,” Jacobsen said.
The database went live in January of this year and is quickly becoming the go-to place to find internships on Florida cattle ranches, stocker operations, feed yards and processing plants. The list also includes internships in allied industries such as animal pharmaceutical companies as well as wildlife and biological internships. Currently, the database offers about 38 internships and is growing rapidly.
“The database also opens up the door to so many other options within the agriculture industry. There are more companies other than those specific to the Florida industry such as Zoetis and Genex,” said Sarah Flowers, a University of Florida student majoring in animal sciences.
Flowers said she receives emails and newsletters from FCA and saw an announcement about the launch of the database. She applied for several internships and was able to secure one as a marketing intern with Seminole Pride Beef.
According to Lacy Meister, a recent graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and intern for Seminole Pride Beef, the database is easy to find and has already provided students across the country with internships.
“I was searching everything because I was desperate for an internship, and I Googled the Florida Cattlemen’s Association where I found the internship database. It is very easy to access and ultimately led to me working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Meister said.
Both Flowers and Meister shared about their experiences as interns for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Meister said she was able to participate in activities she had never done before and was able to discover her passion working with cattle. Flowers said she knew she had a passion for cattle, but did not realize how many facets were involved in an operation like Seminole Pride Beef.
According to Jacobsen, FCA has great youth programs, but there was nothing available to college-aged students that would connect them with industry professionals. He said this database was a way for FCA to bridge the gap between students and the industry.
If you are interested in learning more, visit floridacattlemen.org.