New wave of CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellows makes an impact in the nation’s capital

By for CAES News

Four undergraduate students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) are representing the college in Washington, D.C., serving as 2020 CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellows.

The 12-week fellowship allows these students to have a voice in the nation’s capital, with hands-on learning opportunities in the offices of Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Georgia Reps. Doug Collins and Sanford Bishop.

“As a first-generation college student, living and working on Capitol Hill was not in the cards for me — at least that’s what I told myself,” said Emily Leonard, a junior agricultural education major. “Being able to represent my college, my family and my community in D.C. is such an honor and has opened my eyes to the possibilities that being a CAES student brings. It means that I am able to serve my state through agricultural policy work and further build respect for those who work in this capacity.”

While in D.C., the students witness how the legislature affects the agricultural industry, from national policy to state-level decisions. They also get to be a part of the conversations, learning from experts with decades of experience.

“Being a Congressional Ag Fellow means I have the chance to represent Georgia agriculture in a political environment,” said Grace Dodds, a junior agricultural communications major. “Though I have a small voice, I actively get to work on policy that fights for the state's top economic industry and all those who contribute.”

Since the program’s inception in 1997, CAES has helped develop new generations of agricultural policymakers by providing them with the opportunity to gain real-world experience at the highest level. More than 100 students have been selected for the CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellowship program.

This year’s students representing UGA as 2020 Congressional Agricultural Fellows include:

  • Julie Bacon, an agricultural communications graduate from Reidsville, Georgia, earned her degree in the spring and is working in the office of Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
  • Ben Murray, a senior agricultural communications major from Alapaha, Georgia, is working in the office of Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
  • Grace Dodds, a junior agricultural communications major from Columbus, Georgia, is working in the office of Rep. Doug Collins.
  • Emily Leonard, a junior agricultural education major from Lake Park, Georgia, is working in the office of Rep. Sanford Bishop.

“The Congressional Ag Fellowship is one of the longest-running internship programs at CAES,” said Amanda Newquist, director of experiential learning at CAES. “Students receive firsthand experience on policy issues that directly affect Georgia’s farmers. Whether they choose to pursue a career in policy or not, the Congressional Ag Fellowship develops marketable skills students will use in their future careers.”

The Congressional Agricultural Fellowship is funded by Georgia EMC and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

For more information on CAES, the college's experiential learning initiative, and other opportunities available to students, visit 

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