Agriculture internships help build interest in Ag careers

by | Jul 17, 2019

Summer break is a time when many college students decide whether to spend their summer at the beach or the mountains. While other students utilize this time for career-building internships. This is a great way for students to get experience in a variety of state government agencies. Recently, Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed the 50th anniversary of the State North Carolina Internship Program and July 25th as “Intern day” in North Carolina.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services gives students the opportunity to intern for the summer or during the school year. Interns can be paid or receive class credit during their time. This summer there are 10 interns currently in the department. “We have interns in our marketing (agritourism and international), veterinary, forestry, research stations, public affairs, general administration and small farms divisions,” said Diane Cook, internship coordinator.

Franklin ‘Mac’ McCain III spent some of his summer break from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University interning in the Small Farms Division. Mac is a senior, and majoring in agriculture business.

During his internship, Mac helped plan the Minority Farmers Conference, recruit farmers and work on conservation plans. “I have attended conferences, talked with farmers, learned about policies and marketing, and how everything works,” Mac said. During his time in the Small Farms Division, he has shadowed many of the staff and learned directly how small and minority farms benefit from the programs offered. 

Mac’s interest in agriculture started because he is allergic to a lot of different types of foods such as all nuts, seafood, bananas and popcorn. This caused him to become more cautious of what he eats; “I am interested in how food is processed and grown,” Mac said. Mac hopes to use this internship experience in the future by getting a job in government, particularly with the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Since he has an interest in working for agriculture, we have exposed him to many different areas of agriculture and have taught him the importance of forming relationships with farmers before jumping into business with farmers,” said Cliff Sutton, agriculture marketing specialist with the Small Farms Division. 

Mac’s grandfather, Franklin McCain was an American civil rights activist, and a member of the Greensboro Four-students who participated in the sit-in protest at the Woolworth lunch counter in 1960. His grandfather had a big impact on his life. “He left big shoes to fill, I hope to fill those and leave bigger shoes for my kids to fill. My grandfather was very big into education and pushed me to do well in school and sports. I want to make a change in the world like he did,” Mac said.

Not only is he interested in agriculture, but he also plays football for N.C. A&T. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. By his senior year, N.C. A&T had offered him a full scholarship. Mac redshirted two years because of injuries. He has become an outstanding player winning MVP, All American and All Conference honors. This past year, Mac won All American and First Team All-Conference. In the next year or two, Mac hopes to be drafted to the NFL.

For more information on an internship with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, email Diane Cook at or Anna Hayworth at, or call 919-707-3000.