Sustainable ag policy internships available at Michael Fields Institute

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Policy Internships for 2011

Background and Purpose – The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) is a non-profit agricultural institute founded in 1984 in East Troy, Wisconsin. Our research, education, technical assistance and public policy work seeks to revitalize farming and help both urban and rural populations meet common concerns. These concerns include how our food is grown; whether farming is a profitable enterprise; the long-term fertility of the soil; purity of water; and conservation of the Earth’s resources.

As part of MFAI’s educational mission, in January of 2011 we will begin our eighth year of public policy internships. We do this largely to help the sustainable agriculture movement continue to draw exciting, committed, informed activists into the work of creating and advancing public policies that support sustainable agriculture.  We believe that the work of MFAI’s policy program offers an excellent avenue to train and engage potential advocates in such policy work.

What the Policy Internship Offers – Policy interns will have the opportunity to assist in coordinating the Fiscal Year 2012 grassroots agricultural appropriations campaign; engage in early priority-setting for the 2012 Farm BIll; develop new grassroots and media contacts in key congressional and senate districts nationally and develop similar strategies for Wisconsin grassroots network development; participate in state sustainable agricultural policy development, such as funding sustainable agriculture programs in the state budget; join policy conference calls of groups such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; work with NSAC staff for two weeks in Washington, D.C.; and attend at least one major national and one state movement-related conference. Interns will be able to conduct background research on at least one agricultural policy topic that both benefits the movement and is of personal interest to them; MFAI will assist them in publicizing and distributing their findings. Interns will have an opportunity to write an opinion editorial and write press releases and/or newsletter articles on policy issues. MFAI’s policy interns will be able to participate to the degree they wish to in MFAI’s other education and training workshops.

The Policy Program Director and Associate Director will commit to providing supervision of no less than 2 hours per week after an intensive introduction and orientation.

Internship Expectations – MFAI will expect at least a 50% time commitment from policy interns. Interns will operate from Madison, Wisconsin, the location of MFAI’s Policy Program, and will be responsible for arranging their own housing, food, computer access and other needs.

Duration/Schedule – We offer these internships for five months, from January through June. Start and end dates are negotiable once interns are selected, and the weekly schedule of hours worked is flexible.

Potential Candidates – We will consider any candidate with a demonstrated interest in sustainable agriculture and/or agricultural policy. We place a priority on candidates who see sustainable agricultural policy as a career direction, and we pay attention to the quality of the writing sample submitted.

Finances – MFAI will pay a $450/month stipend, up to $100/month in work-related supplies, phone, Internet services, mailing costs, and transportation.  We will pay for a roundtrip ticket to Washington, plus lodging and a modest per diem while in Washington, D.C. for two weeks. We will also cover registration to participate in MFAI trainings and events and will support interns attending at least one national sustainable agriculture movement-related conference and one state conference.

Application Process – Interested applicants should submit a letter expressing reasons for interest in this position (with emphasis on their interest in a sustainable agriculture policy career), relevant background, a writing sample, names/contact information for three references, and confirmation of housing, computer access, and other arrangements by Friday, October 29, 2010. (Applicants from out of town may simply note that they understand that they need to make these arrangements and are prepared to do so.) Please send applications to Margaret Krome, MFAI Policy Program Director, 2524 Chamberlain Ave., Madison, WI 53705.  For questions or more information, you may contact Margaret at or (608) 238-1440.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is a public, non-profit institute for education and research in sustainable agriculture. We actively encourage students of all races, colors and national and ethnic origins to apply. Please inquire if special arrangements may be needed.