Grace Long, a junior double-majoring in strategic political communications and law, politics and society with a minor in educational studies, has taken her longstanding passion for agriculture and transformed it into a career path.
Long is a communications intern for Iowa Select Farms, a pork production company that is the fourth largest pork producer in the nation.
“We are pig farmers, so that means we raise pigs from when they are born to when they go to be processed to go into the food supply and serve consumers,” Long said.
In her time at Iowa Select Farms, dating back to mid-May of 2021, Long has witnessed a wide range of what Iowa Select Farms’ communications team does, and has had the opportunity to be an active part of it. She has helped with the planning and execution of events, helped relaunch the organization’s newsletter and assisted in putting out the company’s first-ever sustainability report as a point copy editor.
“I’ve done everything from vaccinating piglets to writing articles to driving across Iowa in six days to deliver almost 30 tons of pork,” Long said.
Of all the tasks that Long gets to do, she loves doing photography the most.
Long said, “One of my favorite things to do is going to farms to interview producers about what they are doing and how their story relates to the company as a whole. I take photos of them in their element which is a fun challenge because pig farms are so difficult to photograph.”
One of Long’s friends, Natalie Jefson, a junior at Iowa State University majoring in human development and family studies and double-minoring in religious studies and criminal justice, can attest to Long’s love for taking photos.
“Grace is really passionate about photography, and I think being able to tie the photography into agriculture is a really great experience for her,” Jefson said.
Long and Jefson’s friendship dates back to when they initially met through an agricultural education program called the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. Long said that she was involved with FFA all four years of high school and then two years in college.
Jefson said, “Our freshman year of college, we served on the same state officer team for FFA. I was the secretary and she was the reporter, so we worked really closely together.”
Jefson said that one of Long’s greatest strengths is how personable she is.
“I know that during our officer year, one of the more professional aspects of FFA was that we would visit with industry professionals within the agriculture industry,” Jefson said. “Grace was always really good at starting conversations with people, no matter if they were in the Senate or in the Iowa House or if they were a student in their agriculture class. I think that that aspect of her personality is really helpful for her as a professional because she’s just able to talk to anybody whenever about anything.”
With Long’s skillset and diverse academic interests, she isn’t certain about what profession she will end up in. Before her internship at Iowa Select Farms, she worked with the World Food Prize, and this summer, she’ll be joining a team at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
“My problem isn’t that I haven’t found something that I’ve fallen in love with. My problem is more that I love all of it,” Long said. “As you can kind of see from my majors, I have an interest in law, I have an interest in journalism and I have an interest in education.”
Long said that she could see herself as an agricultural lawyer; she could see herself pursuing the creativity that photography offers her in communications; she could see herself in agricultural advocacy work or she could see herself going into career and technical education. There is a multitude of different directions that she could go, but no matter where she goes, her professional experiences have assisted her along the way.
“I have definitely seen her grow in her confidence in herself,” Jefson said. “I think being able to have those professional opportunities that she’s had, I’ve seen her feel a little bit more sure of herself in the professional world. That’s been really encouraging. I think that she can recognize some of her strengths now. She’s gained so much knowledge about the agricultural industry and about having a professional career that I find very valuable for her.”
As Long continues to pursue preprofessional experiences, she is grateful for those opportunities that she has already had.
“I am so thankful for everyone at Iowa Select Farms that has been so supportive of me during my time there,” Long said. “I’ve grown a lot and I’ve been fortunate to also be able to give back to my team and the company. I’m just so thankful to everyone from those top people I’m working with within the West Des Moines office, all the way down to the production interns and the people I’ve met on farms.”
With Long as a junior in college, we shall see where the wind takes her in her career.