Chandler Compton (L), with Joel Brandenberger, National Turkey Foundation President.

Clemson — The National Turkey Federation (NTF) is a trade association that aims at strengthening turkey farmers’ ability to produce quality, wholesome products and raise awareness about the health benefits of eating turkey. Chandler Compton, a Clemson University student, interned with the trade association this past summer, gaining valuable experience on Capitol Hill.

“The National Turkey Federation is a trade association that advocates for all sectors of the turkey industry with the growers, producers, and veterinarians on one side, and the industry being advocated for in front of Congress on the other side,” said Compton, a senior Animal and Veterinary Sciences major from Clemson.

While working with the NTF, she worked in all four of its departments providing help with government relations, scientific and regulatory practices, communications and marketing outreach, and membership access to the association.

“NTF has four different departments: government relations, scientific and regulatory affairs, communications and marketing, and a membership service department,” Compton said. “I got to work directly with all four of the departments at NTF, and the different departments work closely together to help advocate for the industry as a whole.”

During her 10 weeks in D.C., Compton said that there were two experiences that highlighted her internship experience, both dealing with hearings in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

“One of the most memorable experiences I had in Washington was when I got to attend the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s FY 2018 budget hearing, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s FY 2018 budget request,” said Compton. “I got to hear both Secretary Sonny Perdue and Dr. Scott Gottlieb testify in front of the appropriations committee regarding the presidents proposed budget.”

She learned the process behind establishing and implementing policy, and got to help the government relations team work on a program related to animal disease prevention and research.

“I got to work with an animal pest and disease prevention program, which is a two-tiered program that would help prevent foreign disease. I got the see the lobbing process while I was in D.C. too. I got to go into lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill, and see how professionals from different expertise came together to help advocate for certain programs in front of members of Congress and their staff,” said Compton.

Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences Chair James Strickland said that he was not surprised that Compton excelled in her internship, especially since she applied for and earned the internship on her own.

“She is a very intelligent lady, very goal-oriented. She actually found, applied for and won the internship all on her own, we just helped her with some of the cost and class credit for her it over the summer,” said Strickland.

Strickland also believes that more students should try think outside of the box and get involved in policy and legislation, similar to what Compton was involved with this past summer, in order to become knowledgeable about multiple aspects of the animal science industry.

“It’s an excellent internship experience from what I can gather. It was a great networking opportunity for her, especially if she ends up following through on the policy side of the industry,” said Strickland. “All AVS students could benefit from looking at these industry-type internships and taking the summer to do that because they will have a better idea of what their clientele is looking for.”

Interning in Washington, D.C., has its perks and its downfalls, but Compton felt that both helped her improve her knowledge and application of skills in the industry.

“As an intern, I got to see first-hand that D.C. is a very competitive place to work. The work environment could be overwhelming and stressful at times, but it allowed me to develop better communication skills and utilize networking opportunities” said Compton.

While her experience this summer opened her eyes to a new and different world, Compton still has big decisions to make regarding her future with a wide range of possibilities.

“Interning at NTF allowed me see how the animal science industry and business world coincide together in the workplace. From a legislative point of view, I got to see how much the members of Congress votes influence various situations, how issues are handled, and how money is appropriated in agriculture situations,” she said. “I’m interested in getting my master’s degree in public policy or legislative affairs, but before I make that decision I need to figure out if I want to be back on that scene again. In the meantime, I am looking into other internship and fellowship opportunities in Washington, D.C. I plan on applying for a fellowship with the U.S. Senator and Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.”

Regardless of what Compton pursues after graduation, she believes that Clemson prepared her, and continues to prepare her for a successful career.

“The knowledge I gained underneath my animal and veterinary science professors at Clemson helped prepare me for my internship in Washington this summer…everything I did this summer directly relates to the topics that I have been studying here at Clemson University,” she said.