Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the 3rd
Annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit at the University of Maryland,
College Park. It was great to meet and interact with the new class of
Tillman Military Scholars. On the first night of the summit, I met
Marie Tillman, Pat’s wife, and she is truly an inspiration. She spoke
about her journey to serve, and I am looking forward to reading her
new book, The Letter. I also enjoyed meeting the the incredible Pat Tillman Foundation staff
The next afternoon, we went around the Washington, D.C., Maryland
and Virginia area for the Day of Service. My group went to Vinson Hall
veterans home in McLean, Virginia, and I loved speaking with the
retired veterans. We spoke about current issues, and it was great to
hear their unique insights. Here is a link to a news clip about our
visit to Vinson Hall:
The final event of the summit was the launch of the Education Pillar
for the Got Your Six campaign at The George Washington University.
Many university partners, Capitol Hill members and celebrity guests
attended to promote the improvement of education for veterans. This was a
fitting culmination to the summit, and I believe we all left feeling
energized and honored to support our veterans. I greatly enjoyed my
time at the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit, and I am looking forward to
working with the Pat Tillman Foundation this year in Tempe.
The past few weeks have been busy and exciting! In the office, I have
been able to participate in meetings with China, Canada and Holland. I
have also been working to update the export library and prepare
comments for interagency approval. I have learned a lot, and I have
greatly enjoyed my experience along the way.
Outside of work, we have had a very nice time touring the nation’s
capital. We have visited Ford’s Theater and the Peterson House where
President Lincoln died. We went to the National Archives and saw the
Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. We have
also been taking advantage of all the great restaurants in the area,
eating at the Hard Rock Cafe, Coco Chocolate Boutique, and Georgetown
Cupcake. Finally, we have visited Georgetown University and American
University, which are both gorgeous and historic campuses.
Last weekend, I attended the ASU National Capital Sun Devil Send-Off.
It was located at the “ASU Embassy”, a beautiful building near Embassy
Row, and it was hosted by the Washington, D.C. ASU Alumni Chapter. It
was great to reconnect with my fellow Sun Devils, and welcome the
local students who will be freshmen at ASU in the fall. We were also
invited to take a tour of the Department of State, which included the
outstanding Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Everything has been great!
Spending the Fourth of July in our Washington, DC was truly a memorable experience.
On the morning of the Fourth, we attended the National Independence Day Parade. Everybody was wearing red, white and blue, and we found a perfect viewing spot on the steps of the National Archives building. The parade consisted of marching bands and patriotic floats, as well as many military groups. It was so exciting to celebrate our nation’s birthday in such an important setting. Later that day, we went to dinner at Founding Farmers, a restaurant which promotes sustainable agriculture and healthy eating. I had macaroni and cheese with ham, peas and apples, as well as the best fresh lemonade I have ever tasted. We then hurried to the White House, where we had a picturesque view of the fireworks over the Potomac River and National Mall. It was the perfect way to end an historic day of celebration.
I am enjoying my work, as every day brings an interesting new project or meeting. I am continuing to learn so much about food safety and public health!
On Friday, we attended a signing event at the White House between the USDA, EPA and 1890 Land-Grant Universities. It was exciting to greet the university presidents and invited officials as they arrived. Once the 80 attendees were there, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke about the importance of cooperation and support for the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). They then signed, together with Tuskegee University President and Council of 1890 Universities Chair Gilbert Rochon, a memorandum of understanding to support internships, training, technical assistance, faculty exchange opportunities, increased mentoring and other collaborative environmental and public health activities.
Over the weekend, we went to Madame Tussaud’s, where we saw past and current Presidents and other political leaders, as well as celebrities and sports stars. It was a unique experience. On the way there, we passed Ford’s Theater and the house across the street where President Lincoln died, and we vowed to visit those historic places in the near future. We also visited a beautiful Catholic Church, which was built in 1794. Since tomorrow is Independence Day, I’m sure I will have an exciting blog update as there are many events planned. Hope you all have a happy and safe Fourth of July!
After spending the prior week meeting with USDA administrators and government officials, last week was relatively calm. I learned more about the International Policy Division and the types of projects that I will be working on for the remainder of my time here. I was able to attend a teleconference with Canadian officials, in addition to our regularly-scheduled staff and export team meetings. The importance of FSIS in protecting public health is apparent throughout our day-to-day work.
Aside from a minor mistake of boarding the Metro in the hopes of going to a nearby grocery store and actually arriving at the Pentagon, the Metro Map has been fairly easy to navigate. With the new Rush Hour train schedule, commutes are easier and quicker than ever during the work days, but the trains can still be a little late on the weekends. Nevertheless, I enjoy taking the Metro, as it reminds me of the rides at Disney World, and it is much better than walking around in the heat and humidity.
We took a tour of the United States Capitol, and it was exciting to see such an historic building. First, we watched from the Gallery as the Speaker Pro Tem convened the House for Pro Forma, and then we were able to walk on the House floor. We even sat in the seats that President Obama passes on his way to give the State of the Union address. Then we walked through Cannon Tunnel, which is decorated with the Representatives’ favorite artwork by the youth of their home states. It was beautiful! We also ate dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant, Aatish on the Hill, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. For dessert, we had delicious Red Velvet Cupcakes from the Penn Quarter area. It is interesting to see the different cultures of the neighborhoods that make up the diverse DC metropolitan area.
Talk to you all later!
I am spending this summer as a World Food Prize Wallace-Carver Intern at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. I am very excited about this opportunity to live and work in our nation’s capital, and my internship has gotten off to a great start. For the summer, I am living in an apartment in the city with three other interns, and we have a great place! The location is easily accessible by metro from just about anywhere, and our neighborhood is always lively and busy. I have officially been working for two weeks, and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more about my agency and the work that it does.
During my first week in DC, I attended a Nationals/Mets game at the great Nationals Park. The Nationals are doing very well this year, and I found myself cheering for the Nats as they pulled off a 5-3 victory. (Sorry Dad!) On Saturday, we were invited to tour the West Wing of the White House. What a great experience! Although we were not allowed to take pictures inside the Rose Garden, Oval Office, or other executive offices, it was so exciting to see these historic locations. We saw the doors to the Situation Room and the White House Mess (cafeteria). We were able to take pictures in the Press Briefing Room, and I was surprised to see that the audience chairs were labeled for their respective stations, such as NBC, CNN, etc.
Last week, we attended the Wallace-Carver Leadership Symposium, where we met with the administrators of USDA’s various agencies and mission areas. We also toured the Agricultural Research Services headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland, and the National Arboretum in DC. A highlight of the week was our visit with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a fellow Iowan. He was inspiring to talk to, and gave us advice on working to alleviate hunger and poverty for our generation and those to come. We went to the Department of State for the World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the keynote address, and we were excited to hear Dr. Daniel Hillel announced as the 2012 Laureate for his work with micro-irrigation in the Middle East.
I spent last summer as a World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Intern in a biotechnology lab in rural India, where I participated in cutting edge research on food security issues. After that experience, I am now able to see another aspect of what is being done worldwide to combat poverty and hunger, while focusing on international food safety here in DC. When President Abraham Lincoln founded the USDA 150 years ago, it is no wonder that he called it “The People’s Department.” I feel blessed to be working in the People’s Department this summer, as it has already given me tremendous hope for the future.
I will be posting to this blog and uploading pictures later so check back!