Summer Internship Series: My Summer as an Environmental Advocate

Mae Riordan ’18

Agriculture Outreach and Advocacy Intern, Missouri Coalition for the Environment

This summer, I worked as the Agriculture Outreach and Advocacy Intern at Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). I worked directly under Alicia Lloyd, MCE’s Clean Water Policy Coordinator. My tasks for the summer included organizing footage, interviews, and pictures from their “Farm Tour” into tangible products to release to the public. This means I wrote blog posts and other features on a variety of agricultural and environmental issues facing Missouri, but I also created a GIS Story Map highlighting farmers across the state. I specifically researched different issues that affected agriculture production within Missouri, which was pretty exciting.

One of the tasks I worked on was researching the chemical pesticide, Dicamba, and its affect on Missouri farmers. This became a very exciting task, because this summer it was a hot issue across the country, so it felt very relevant and important. Essentially, dicamba is a pesticide that must be applied to a certain variety of dicamba-resistant crop, otherwise it will kill anything it touches. This caused tensions in Missouri for farmers, because the pesticide can drift from a farm that uses these dicamba-resistant seeds onto a farm that doesn’t, ultimately financially hurting the farmers who’s crop was killed. There was even a murder over the issue of dicamba drift in Missouri’s boot-heel.

Along with the blog post, I also added content to MCE’s website on pesticides. Since pesticides can truly affect our clean water and health, it was really important that MCE included some content on it on their website. You can read about what I researched and came up with here!

Last, I spent the majority of my time working on editing photographs, interviews, and video clips that MCE collected while talking with a variety of farmers across the state. The farmers ranged from owning 1000-acres of land, to a small 2-acre plot. What was really cool was that these farmers all practiced sustainable methods for farming, which really took what I’ve learned the past 3 years as an Environmental Studies major, and showed real world applications of the processes. The farm tour story map hasn’t been added to the website yet, since it’s a work in process, but it was really awesome to learn how to work with different software to create something that the public would love to look at and learn about sustainable farming!

Overall, this summer was an incredible learning opportunity. From visiting a water treatment plant, to attending video conferences with some leading individuals in the environmental field, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. It’s exciting to see that some of my tangible products will help inform the public of some really detrimental impacts of agriculture on our land, and hopefully it will have a lasting impact on educating the public!