Cameron Castillo ’23, an agricultural economics major, has always been interested in politics, policy and agriculture. So, when he learned about the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy internship program, ANRP, in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he decided to turn his undergraduate experience into something even more impactful.

A agriculture economics student, Cameron Castillo, stands arms folded with a suit and tie and a large smile
Cameron Castillo, a Texas A&M agricultural economics major, fulfills his desire to learn about policy, politics and agriculture as an Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy program intern in Austin. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

ANRP is a premier leadership opportunity offered within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The internship program has students complete exciting, policy-focused internships in Austin, Washington, D.C.,  and Rome, for a semester while earning academic credit. The internship program offers these opportunities every summer, fall and spring semester.

The internship program strives to provide students with opportunities to understand the policy-making process and how to apply and relate it to agriculture and natural resources.

Castillo sat down to discuss his experience within the program and his policy-oriented career goals that followed. 

Q: What made you choose to study agricultural economics within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M? 

A: When I received my letter of admission to Texas A&M University in the fall of 2018, I intended to major in political science due to my interest in politics and public policy. However, with my family’s tradition of being associated with agriculture at land-grant universities, I knew that when I moved from New Mexico to Texas for school, I needed to be in a tight-knit, family like academic environment like those frequently discussed by both sides of my family. So, with lots of curiosity about agriculture, policy and economics, I decided to give the Department of Agricultural Economics a shot. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made up to this point in my life.

Q: Why did you choose to become a part of ANRP? Why did you choose to study away in Austin, specifically? 

A: I have known about the wide range of opportunities provided to students through ANRP since my first visit to Texas A&M as a junior in high school. The experiences for students in ANRP are second to none. I chose to apply for ANRP’s Austin program due to my strong interest in state government. The phrase “all politics is local” is one I have always believed in, and I felt that the Austin program would provide me with a wonderful opportunity to witness the inner workings of the Lone Star State’s legislature.

Q: In your own words, what makes the ANRP program interesting? 

A: ANRP’s Austin program is particularly interesting because of the nature of the work its interns have the chance to engage in. Due to the limited staff sizes in the Texas Legislature, ANRP interns are typically tasked with assignments that are uncommon for the average intern, such as taking stakeholder meetings, working on strategic communications, and even policy formulation. I know of several offices that refer to their ANRP interns as legislative aides and thereby treat them as full-time policy staff members for the duration of the legislative session. This is the case in my office, and I am grateful to work on critical legislative matters daily with my colleagues.

Q: Would you describe the ANRP program as unique when compared to other internship opportunities?

A: ANRP is unique in its ability to connect interested students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with meaningful experiences that assist them in deciding which career paths they may want to pursue. Additionally, the ability of the program staff to connect interns with high-impact experiences proves invaluable, especially for interns who may not have preexisting connections to the location in which they are seeking a policy internship.

Q: What advice would you give to future students looking to pursue the same education and internship path you had? 

A: I advise students to prioritize developing authentic connections with faculty, staff and students, especially former ANRP student interns. These genuine relationships are extremely helpful in deciding which internship experience to pursue. Furthermore, I would advise interested students to “pay it forward” by serving as a resource to future generations of Aggies who may be interested in similar opportunities. The Aggie Network functions best when all Aggies, regardless of their class year, support one another in their pursuits.

Q: What are your future goals once you have completed your internship? 

A: Upon completing this experience, I plan to return to Aggieland to begin working on a master of science in agricultural economics while working as a graduate assistant in the Agricultural and Food Policy Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I look forward to applying the skills I have learned in this experience and throughout my undergraduate career toward a policy-oriented graduate degree in agricultural economics. Following that experience, I plan to find a career that allows me to help people in the areas of agriculture, politics and policy.

For more information about ANRP, visit https://anrp.tamu.edu/.

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