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CAHNRS Cougs in the Capitol

Posted by scott.weybright | October 31, 2017

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Rebecca Foote, a junior studying Agricultural Education, spent last spring semester working in our state Capitol as a legislative intern for Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler.

Foote sitting at the desk of Senator Schoesler, with Schoesler standing next to her
WSU student Rebecca Foote at the desk of Washington Senator Mark Schoesler

During her semester-long internship, she worked as a full-time staff member while the Legislature was in session from January to April of 2017. Rebecca worked together with other interns on mock committee hearings and floor debates on real issues currently happening in the State of Washington.

“The most interesting task I had was researching the cherry trees that were a gift from the Japanese government in the 1920s,” she said. “I wrote the inscription for the portrait we gave to the Japanese Ambassador. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that something that I did will be seen by important people around the world.”

While this was Rebecca’s first time working in the Senate, she had previous experience in the Capitol advocating for various causes as the 2014 – 2015 Washington FFA State Vice President. While she does not plan to work in politics for the rest of her life, Rebecca gained an understanding of how important policy is and the impact that it makes on the lives of the public.

“After this experience I want to become an agriculture teacher that is civically involved and politically aware. This was a wake-up call for me on how important it is to know what is going on rather than simply talking about it after the fact,” she said. “I want to show my students how easy it can be to make a positive difference in their community as well as the state level.”

While she was in the Capitol, Rebecca worked with some incredible people who genuinely care about the work they do.

“The people from the district calling in to voice their opinions, the interest groups that drive across the state for a fifteen minute meeting, the aides taking the time to teach you, and the other interns sharing tips on how to survive. That was my favorite part, all the people that care,” she said.

She received overwhelming support from her fellow interns and supervisors and always found help when she needed it.

“The hill is a tough place to work and most days feel like the next meeting can change everything. So when Senators take the time to sit with you and help you write your final, or when a legislative aide sends you an article that helps answer a constituent email, it makes all the difference,” she added.

The opportunity to work on the Capitol is available each year. WSU students travel to Olympia to build upon their knowledge of the legislative process.

“I would absolutely encourage CAHNRS Cougs to apply for this internship, no matter their major,” she said. “As students, it can be easy to fall into a certain area of focus and not really branch out. This is an opportunity to learn first-hand how agriculturalists are responding to new ag policies as well as why they were created in the first place.”

Rebecca learned not only about how the agricultural industry is affected by lawmakers’ decisions but also how her major is a springboard, not a boundary.

“This experience helped me to realize that my major does not put restrictions on what I am capable of doing.”

To find more information about the Legislative Internship Program, visit http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/ctll/2015/09/legislative-internship-program-deadline-1016/.

For other internship opportunities, visit the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership website: http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/ctll/internshipcareer/.