NC State University senior Becky Zhong always had an interest in public policy. It’s what led her to apply for a 2015 fellowship in the university’s newly established Adolph Warren Family Leadership Program.
“Despite the fact that my major is plant and soil sciences, which is so far away from anything related to political science, I always knew that it was important to be engaged in public policy works, no matter what you study,” she said.
Zhong was named to the inaugural cohort of seven Warren Leadership fellows. The one-year program is for sophomore, junior and senior students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who have demonstrated interest in, and potential for, future leadership in agriculture, public service or both.
The Warren Leadership Program pays tribute to the late Adolph Warren, a 1952 NC State graduate who was an agricultural teacher in Sampson County for more than three decades. It was established with a $2 million commitment from Warren’s daughter and son-in-law, Gail and Joe Dunn of Raleigh.
Fellows participate in government/public policy internships in the legislative and executive branches of state government; government/public policy experiences in Washington, D.C.; and campus-based leadership seminars, workshops and field trips that enable them to meet with and learn from leaders in a variety of agriculture and public policy fields.
The 2015 fellows completed internships in the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Farm Bureau, the North Carolina Pork Council and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
During her 12-week internship at the General Assembly in the office of state Sen. Andrew Brock, Zhong said she attended as many committee meetings as she could. Since Brock co-sponsored the North Carolina Farm Act of 2015, Zhong learned about negotiations, concerns and issues that arise from different constituents across the state about agriculture policies. She also conducted research on comparing similar programs that are funded by legislatures in other states.
According to Zhong, the internship opportunity was unique because the fellows saw issues from several angles.
“We have people working directly in the General Assembly, and we also have people who work in lobbyists’ offices that might come and negotiate with the General Assembly staff about different issues and opinions on public policy. How interesting is that? I think this program has been great in providing us the knowledge that agriculture students need to really learn,” she said.
Applications for the 2016 cohort of Warren Leadership Fellows will be available in October. For more information about the program, visit http://www.warrenleadership.com/.