Internship Profile: Jessica Dercks

Name: Jessi Dercks

Hometown: Kimberly, WI

Year: Senior

Major other than Dairy Science: Microbiology

Internship Employer: Miner Agricultural Research Institute

Learning objective: I partook in Miner’s Summer Experience in Farm Management program, which consisted of thirteen weeks rotating through several subcategories directly related to farm management: herd health, calf management, feeding, milking, and field work. This program allowed students to work along full time employees in these areas in order to gain hands on experience and knowledge. The goal was to learn enough to become sufficiently independent and confident when working around all areas of the farm.

Description of internship: Every day was a little bit different and depended on the rotation. That’s one of the things I loved most about this internship, I never had the same day twice! Milking and feeding started at 4 a.m. and those days were spent either in the parlor or the feed truck for the most part. The herd health and calf rotations began in the barn later in the morning. They consisted of feeding calves, moving animals, caring for sick or down animals and maintaining clean living areas. The only time spent away from the barn is when we were out in the field cutting hay. The interns had the designated role of merging the windrows left by the mower so the majority of our time in this rotation was spent learning to drive the tractor and merge on our own. Aside from the farm management, this internship also focused on educating those who visit the farm about agriculture. We spent a week presenting to fifth grade classes and had many visitors touring the farm at any time throughout the summer.

Favorite part? My favorite part was the experience I gained in the fields. I went there without any knowledge or experience regarding the crops and was a little nervous to see how it would fit into my summer experience. It turned out I really enjoyed learning how to drive a tractor and successfully merge a field! I know it’s a lesson I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to learn otherwise, so I’m really grateful I got the opportunity.

Most interesting thing you learned? I learned so many interesting and new things, but the one that stuck out to me the most was the idea that farms are like mini societies. Never having worked on a farm before, I never realized how in sync and communicative the employees must be to run a successful farm. The teamwork around this farm was incredible! Communication was also key, especially with the amount of research going on at Miner. It’s really helpful to learn how the level of communication affects the workplace — a lesson that I’ll be able to apply to many situations in the future.

How does this internship fit with your long-term goals? This internship did a great job of helping me determine what specifically I’d like my long-term goals to be. It was extremely helpful experiencing first hand all these areas that go into dairy, as it will definitely help me decide where I’d like to be in the industry. This internship was essentially a trial run for several occupations I could see myself working someday. I love working with cows and am happy I learned all the ways I can continue to do that!