903,824 Ohio State Fair fairgoers this year. 22 days straight of living at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. 3 interns planned, designed and executed entire layout of the 36,000 square foot building. 29 ambassadors hired to staff Land and Living exhibit. 44 pages of final reports completed for building.
It has been quite a summer full of hard work and teaching the public about agriculture but I enjoyed every moment of it. Beginning on May 1, 2013, I had the unique opportunity to join two other interns in planning, designing and executing the Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort building at the Ohio State Fair. We immediately went to Disney World within the first two weeks to be able to see how Disney interacts with the public, uses design and how to create a showcase on a topic. This experience allowed the interns to creatively think and design a hands-on and interactive building for future years to come. Having the burden of everyone is new at this (interns and supervisors) did have difficult moments but together as a team we got through it. Besides having everyone new, it was also the year where the building was to be completely revamped. Those two items caused some difficulties throughout the entire process but that was to be expected and would have happened in any internship. I learned to just expect delays and have meetings to discuss and get everyone on the same page again.
The planning and design stage of this internship was several months in the making. It provided a time for all three of us interns to be creative and make connections in the agriculture industry. Having all assigned a section of the building, it allowed for the workload to be divided out. Besides having my own section, I was also designated the responsibilities of media relations during the Ohio State Fair and also was responsible on handling all ambassador paperwork and tasks that were involved. This provided me the unique opportunity to put my major to the test. I was able to be the contact for media and see how their demands and requests are in the real world versus reading a textbook. I was able to run on three hours of sleep to get to the fairgrounds at 4:00 AM to make sure that our puppies would be on air like it would be in a real job. I was able to write press releases and media advisories to inform the public about what was happening in the building and why they should come. Having the ambassador responsibilities I was able to use my organizational skills and social skills to interview and train these college students. In a way I was able to see what Human Resources does on a day-to-day hiring and paperwork process. These were all real world experiences that I was able to have sitting in a cubicle versus sitting in a classroom. This internship allowed me to use my major and classes I have had to feel like I was working in the real world with schooling done. I thoroughly enjoyed having these experiences because I am happy to be majoring as an agricultural communication major.
The execution stage began on July 15 as that was move-in day. Throughout move-in, we were able to have five to seven ambassadors help out daily putting together the building. Whether they were washing fence, planting flowers, or hanging signs they each were valuable assets to the building. Having had two building training days, we were able to have all of the Ohio Farm Bureau staff and ambassadors aware of what was happening in the building. Without a doubt this helped us all days of fair so we weren’t scrambling to get everyone on the same page. Having 29 ambassadors we were able to have enough rotation that we weren’t burning anyone out. This allowed for positive attitudes and smiles throughout the 12 days of fair. It may have taken 8 days to set-up but only 1.5 days to tear down.
The Ohio State Fair ran from July 24 – August 4 and 903,824 Ohio State Fair fairgoers entered through the gates. It is estimated that 350,000 fairgoers went through the Land and Living exhibit that Ohio Farm Bureau presents with other sponsors. We were able to have anyone from Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers, CFAES, Nationwide, Agrium – Seed Survivor, to many many more exhibitors. New this year was a Country Connection stage that had all 36 time slots filled with others presenting outside the scheduled times. This gave the public an opportunity to see demonstrations on sheep shearing, seeing the Columbus Zoo, Christmas tree shearing to presentations on bioproducts. The stage was a hit among the fairgoers and is something that Farm Bureau hopes to continue to grow over the future. This year was also the first year that the Joint House and Senate Ag Committee Hearing was held in the building on the stage. This was well attended and allowed for several individuals to testify to the legislators. On behalf of all the interns and ambassadors, I was able to testify with Mr. Jack Fisher on how agriculture was implemented into the building and why it is important that the Ag & Hort building is filled with agriculture for the fair. The Ohio State Fair and any county fair is the prime showcase for Ohio agriculture where all fairgoers can see and learn.
Like any job or internship, there is always going to be good days and bad days. We did have our fair share of both but I wouldn’t done anything different. I was very honored to be able to be one of the three interns who planned, designed and executed the building to teach about agriculture to a large crowd. This is something I wouldn’t been able to do anywhere else. I was able to network and have opportunities that only Ohio Farm Bureau could provide. I was able to have the role of working with the media and doing ambassador responsibilities. This was an area that I enjoyed and was glad I was responsible for. I definitely learned a lot about myself and my future career in agriculture. I had a great summer interning with Ohio Farm Bureau and look forward to using the skills and resources in my future career!