Elizabeth Burns-Thompson

Feature Story
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson
Degree: 
Agricultural Business
Year Graduated: 
2011

Hometown: Alburnett, IA

Current employment/job title: Iowa Corn Growers Association, Government Relations Manager

Describe your position with Iowa Corn.
In my current role, I am essentially a liaison between Iowa corn farmers and the governmental officials that represent them. On a day to day basis I help farmers navigate and resolve issues with legislative, regulatory, and judicial oversight of their operations.

What do you like about your job?

The best part of my job is the people I get to work for. I love working with farmers. This opportunity has allowed me to combine my agricultural upbringing, professional education, and public policy interests. I feel very blessed to have found that something I am passionate about and I get to do it each and every day.

How did you choose to work this job? 

During college I had a variety of summer internships, but one of my favorites was working for a member of the U.S. Senate. That experience was a turning point for me, and I left that internship wanting to find more ways to get involved in public policy. A mentor at that time told me if I wanted to be competitive I should consider going to law school, so I enrolled that fall. Throughout law school I was able to do government relations work for another state agricultural trade organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, which provided a wealth of knowledge I continue to build upon in my current role at Iowa Corn.

How did the Ag Business major prepare you for your position?

Public policy requires an understanding and balance of a lot of different moving pieces. Effective legislation and regulation is more than just text on a page, there are economic, environmental, sociological, and other key factors that must be evaluated and considered. ISU’s Ag Business department provides the well-rounded education and experiences necessary to be successful in the world of agricultural policy.  

What advice would you give to students looking for work in a similar position?

It’s about what you know AND who you know, so dedicate time to the books but also make time for networking opportunities. I am a true believer in learning from others and credit much of my success to the many mentors that have provided guidance along the way.

Elizabeth was named the CALS Young Alum of the Month for June 2016.

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