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A Summer of Ag Communications

Peyton Gardner with the internal communications team in front of a BASF logo

Peyton Gardner landed her dream internship after years of trying. Gardner, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), is working with the internal communications team at BASF’s office in Durham, North Carolina.

“This internship is a full-circle moment for me because I’ve wanted to work for BASF since before I came to college,” Gardner says. “It’s also really cool because my dad interned with BASF when he was in CALS, and now my brother and I are doing the same while we’re students here.”

Besides the family connections, the internship allows Gardner to blend her two majors: horticultural science and communication.

“People and plants are my two favorite things, and by learning about plants, I can share that with people,” she says. “I’m learning about the industry that feeds the world and how to share the importance of that.”

Gardner grew up surrounded by agriculture in a rural area, but she wasn’t always interested in horticulture. Gardner was upset when her high school guidance counselor accidentally enrolled her in a horticulture class, but her counselor encouraged her to try it.

Gardner running the teleprompter for Paul Rea, the senior vice president of BASF Ag Solutions, while filming. Photo provided by Peyton Gardner

“By the end of that semester, I had joined FFA, competed in various competitions at the state level, and built a greenhouse with my dad in the backyard where I started my own small business,” Gardner explains. “I knew that I loved horticulture and wanted that to be a part of my future, but I didn’t know how I fit into agriculture specifically.”

Gardner’s FFA adviser encouraged her to explore nontraditional agricultural careers, and she became interested in agricultural communications. Gardner then was able to shadow a marketing specialist from BASF.

“BASF refers to farming as the ‘Biggest Job on Earth,’ and that really resonates with me,” Gardner says. “Being a part of a company that acknowledges that and works to support growers so that they can continue to feed the world is really important to me.”

“My resume and skill set list have grown so much.”

Gardner knew she wanted to intern at BASF after enjoying her shadow experience, but they didn’t have a communication internship until they created one for her. While attending the Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference last fall, Gardner shared her interest while having dinner with members of BASF’s leadership team.

“The next morning, there was paperwork in my inbox to look over the details, and by the end of the week, I was hired for the summer of 2023,” she says.

This summer, Gardner is writing articles for the employee newsletter and helping facilitate events, among other projects.

Gardner and BASF’s Josue Leo Solis preparing for a town hall webcast. Photo provided by Peyton Gardner

“I really appreciate how hands-on this internship has been, and how open everyone I work with is to making sure I get the most experiences possible this summer,” Gardner says. “My resume and skill set list have grown so much.”

Gardner will continue blending her interests when she returns to NC State in the fall. She’s part of the newly launched agricultural communications program led by Katie Sanders, an assistant professor and Extension specialist in food systems communication.

“I think it has the potential to make a real impact on agriculture in North Carolina by training students to effectively communicate for an industry that is essential to our state,” Gardner says. “My goal for this year is to continue working with Katie Sanders so this becomes a reality. The program is something that I’m very proud to be a part of, and I really want to see it succeed, even after I graduate.”

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.