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The Block - It's more than a show pig

One summer, five states, three pig shows, and one leadership camp collectively made for an impactful internship experience. My favorite quote¹ is about having a passion to purpose to profession mindset. The older I get, the more value I see in this quote and the more purpose I see in what I do. 

Interning with as the summer events and marketing intern, I was pushed creatively and grew both personally and professionally. If you want to be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best, and the staff at is the BEST. My goals for the summer were to network with intention and gain experience that would give me insight into what I want to do post graduation.  

Intentional Networking 

Expanding my network with influential members of our industry was definitely an easy goal to achieve, as I was able to work alongside the most incredible people in our industry throughout the summer. I believe it’s important for me to share who I’ve been working with in order to get my message across about my newly-found, strong network I gained as a intern. has a staff stacked with business marketing professionals like Jackie Lackey, who took the time to expand my skill set and knowledge on what marketing means to the show pig community. I was a part of weekly meetings with the producer relations professional, Ellen Knauth, and the social media specialist, Abby Davis. While on the road across the Midwest, I traveled with Michelle Scholl and Amy Smith, who work in the office and who epitomize what it means to service customers. Spending time with the team added great value to my network. As important as these women are to my professional career, I’d like to add the impact they played in my personal life as well. They each serve a purpose in our industry while dually equipped as badass moms and wives. I had an amazing group to work with this summer and was provided an incredible learning environment. From working in the livestock industry to being a good wife and mom, I have been positively influenced by the powerful group of women I was surrounded by. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that networking with your peers is just as important as meeting the leaders who are at the forefront of industry. I have always tended to do projects and assignments on my own so I could completely control the finished product, but this summer I learned that there is much to be gained by having someone to work with. My co-intern, Abi, and I complemented each other well with our skill sets. I enjoyed still having personal tasks I was responsible for but then seeing how our time spent apart came together resulted in a product we couldn’t have thought of on our own. When I reflect on how my thought process and approach to projects and tasks has changed, I now see how my input is affecting my output. Through photography, video and graphic design, we produced work I was proud to put my name on. Because this internship provided me with a strong network and positive influence, I am now more confident in my job opportunities upon graduation and am excited to have extended my internship at for the fall semester.   

What I Want To Do Post-Graduation 

As a intern, I captured reactions with my camera, found ways to engage through TikTok trends, and traveled to national pig shows to interact with exhibitors and families through the booth. We started the summer off with a bang at The Exposition in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met the entire team. Meeting the team gave me a better grasp of company expectations and helped me to understand that high-quality work and customer service is a direct result of the high-caliber of individuals that make up this team. This really set the tone for my summer and made me want to strive to be better. 

We also traveled to Springfield, Illinois, for the Team Purebred show and later wrapped up in Louisville, Kentucky, at the National Junior Summer Spectacular. Another event I had the chance to be a part of in mid-July was’s annual All-Star Camp in Ames, Iowa. At this event, I witnessed over 30 students take a deep dive into bridging the gap with the show pig and commercial pork industries and challenge themselves in personal development. As much as I enjoyed these events, the most impactful experiences for me this summer were the internal marketing meetings where we brainstormed new ideas, developed plans, and talked about real-world issues and how to solve them. I was forced to think about the bigger picture. These experiences were where I felt professional growth and realized this is where I want to be full-time.  

In addition to my travels, I was eager to take on the challenge of engaging in new areas of the swine industry. One way I broadened my horizons is getting a first-hand explanation from the organization that represents all swine producers. I had the opportunity to sit in a board room at the National Pork Board to discuss the importance of policy, health and nutrition to pork production. also gave me the ability to learn about content creation and metrics in a way I never had before. Interacting with over 27,000 users required strategic purposing behind each photo, video and caption. Understanding what type of content performed best to the audience in terms of link clicks, engagement through social media reactions (comments and likes), and seeing how actions impact website traffic provided more purpose to my work. 

I now realize my goals became more than just a checklist. I can confidently say I have reached each goal, however, I will continue to intentionally network and take on new opportunities while enjoying every moment. Purpose and perspective will continue to shape things for me… content, relationships, and my future. It is thrilling to see the amount of people who genuinely care where the direction of our industry is headed and the vast amount of opportunities to grow and be successful.

After a summer spent with some super cool people, I am trying to learn where my voice will one day have that kind of impact. Our industry is full of powerful people with words that will influence whoever is listening. Go be that voice worth listening to whether it’s on the mic or a simple conversation. 

To learn more about investing into your future, click here to read about five tips to becoming an effective leader in agriculture.   

Author Bio:
Kourtney Gibson, a dedicated Ag Communications student at Texas Tech University and skilled photographer, is currently making strides in her role as a marketing intern at Utilizing her adeptness in both communication and photography, she brings fresh perspectives and forward-thinking strategies to her role.  

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¹“Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession.” - Gabrielle Bernstein 

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