January 27, 2007

For The Life Of An Intern

Just to be clear on this, before writing another word about matters agricultural, this week I was very excited to start a position as an agricultural policy intern with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. MFAI is a non-profit organization that educates farmers, would-be farmers and the public about sustainable farming practices and food system issues. MFAI also coordinates with the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, as well as other national and regional sustainable agriculture organizations, to influence the federal agricultural appropriations process in line with their publicly stated policy goals. Wicked cool, eh?

Before I even applied for this position, for which I'll be earning college credit and a very modest stipend, I'd made my personal beliefs in favor of environmentally sound agricultural practices very clear. My strong convictions on the matter were a significant selection factor. Still, the possibility of a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, has been very much on my mind.

As to its impact on my blogging about related topics, I expect I'll be much better informed about these issues due to greater exposure. However, there are likely things that I'll hear and be asked to keep as privileged information that would differ from the set of things I might consider confidential were I not affiliated with MFAI and solely writing for myself. And even though all of my posts on the subject, unless otherwise noted, will be my opinion and not any official representation of MFAI's, I must admit the possibility that my perspective could be influenced by their interests. I'm proud to be associated with MFAI and of the work I'll be doing, or I wouldn't have taken this position. Still, readers of the site have a right to consider what they read here in light of that information.

For this and other converging reasons, and after discussions with Mary, there are going to be some minor changes around here. Over the next couple weeks, I'll be arranging the transfer of the pacificviews.org domain name and hosting share to Mary. I know she feels the same way about maintaining the site that I do and would reject commercial offers to buy the domain out of hand, just as I've done. I'm still going to be posting here much the same as usual, though posts where I'm editorializing about topics within the purview of my internship will include a notice about my work with MFAI and either the disclaimer that the views I'm expressing are solely my own or (rarely) a statement that I'm writing a piece on their behalf. Just so you know.

Anyway, if this is all we have to write about in relation to site process issues this year, that'd be great. Thanks for reading, or politely skimming, as the case may be :)

Posted by natasha at January 27, 2007 09:08 AM | Blogging | Technorati links |

Congrats on your MFAI internship.

I hope you get a chance to get out to Kansas
to see Wes Jackson at The Land Institute.
Lots of Iowans I know have found it a life-changing
experience, and I think that his ideas are gaining influence.

I hope.

Posted by: joel hanes at January 27, 2007 06:07 PM

Thanks! And that's a great suggestion about visiting the Land Institute; we talked about it in class a lot last year and it'd be a great thing to see it in person.

Posted by: natasha at January 28, 2007 11:40 AM