Since the last time I posted a lot has changed. As session ended it was evident that a new placement for my internship would be an exciting development. I learned a lot working in the NC General Assembly this past month, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to get involved in such a busy place.
My new placement comes in two parts: Monday through Wednesday I will be working at the NCSU Agroecology Farm and Thursday and Friday I will be working with grad student Graham Givens to help develop FoodCon 2016.
Working on the farm has been fantastic! and such a change from sitting at a desk most of the day, but its great (although hot!!). Most of my time has been spent battling weeds and learning about the dynamics of the farm. I have discussed some really interesting topics with Allison Reeves, the farm manager, such as pest management, food systems, all while learning a lot about basic farming. My favorite was learning to operate the zero-turn mower, that thing is so much fun! Through out the week we had several visitors to the farm, including chefs from NCSU, and a group of high school kids from a horticulture camp.
My other project, FoodCon 2016, is just as exciting. FoodCon is a convention that is going to be held at NCSU in the fall which will focus on sustainable food systems. Right up my alley! I have been helping Graham organize information from the past year’s FoodCons and also creating a social media presence for the event. I hope to continue working with this team in to the fall.
Both of these placements have been very exciting, and a special shout out to Sarah for making them work!
Welcome to my second blog post! This week I will be sharing some of my observations on how the office is communicating with constituents.
In my time working in this office I have been on the front line of communication between Senator Brock and citizens in his district. Most of our interactions come through mail, email and phone calls. Constituents call with a variety of intentions, and I have quickly learned that as an intern my main objective is to listen, account for and to pass along the messages that are coming in. I have also learned that it is beneficial to educate my self about the concerns which are coming in, especially as it pertains to answering phone calls and with engaging people in conversations about why they are calling. Most of the time I am limited to just mentioning that I will pass their concerns on to the Senator, and to encourage callers to continue to reach out to their representatives with any concerns they may have. I have noticed that we receive calls from people on topics which I would not expect, such as seeking for legal advice or economic advice. Obviously I am not in a place to offer this kind of advice so usually I direct these types of calls on to Mrs. Judy Edwards, the Legislative Assistant in the office. This just goes to show that people are relying on their representatives to assist them in many different ways.
Emails are a more direct form of communication, and usually warrant a generic response of passing their concerns along to the senator. Once I have recorded a constituents message I will pass it along in a memo, including notes or observances, so that the senator can read them. Sometimes emails come in with direct questions which call for research on a specific bill or issue. If this is the case I will take down some notes and even draft a response so that their questions will be answered promptly and sufficiently.
I am finally feeling comfortable answering calls and taking the initiative to respond to emails. It feels like a great responsibility listening to people’s concerns and ensuring them that they are being heard. It is also a great way of learning first hand about the issues facing our constituents.
This post will include reflections on my first two weeks working in the office of Senator Andrew Brock. Senator Brock presides over the 34th district, which includes Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties. It is interesting that I was placed with a senator which represents my father’s side of the family. My grandparents own a farm in Statesville, NC, which is located in Iredell county and falls under his district. This makes my involvement in agricultural policy within this office personal and even more interesting. The majority of my experience so far has been with answering phone calls and emails from constituents who contact the senator with concerns of all kinds. In order to answer these people in the best way possible I have found that it is necessary to do my research. I have spent some time researching current bills and amendments, especially as it pertains to the senate’s proposed budget. Topics which come up have encompassed everything from infrastructure, to education, to people seeking legal and financial advice. I have noticed that people reach out with both support and also with alarm for items which concern themselves and their community.
Last night, at an unofficial Warren dinner which was hosted by Sarah Dinger at her house, we all went around a circle and completed an activity which I feel was a great summary of what I have learned so far. The activity was to present what we have learned with our hearts, with our heads, and with our hands.
With my heart I have learned to embrace a diversity of opinion, which I am dealing with everyday in this line of work. Opening myself up to understanding where others are coming from and listening to their thoughts on critical issues has been enlightening. I have learned that it is important to stretch your self by exposing yourself to differing opinions. It certainly makes things more interesting!
With my head I have learned how to take the initiative to research issues which are arising from calls and emails coming from constituents. If I notice a trend or a theme of issues coming in, I will start to do my research, so that when the next person calls I can be better helping them.
With my hands I have written responses, answered phones, organized information, and generally just helped around the office.
I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn all of these things, and I hope to learn so much more in the coming weeks!
This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.