Past Interns

Todd Lackman, 2018

Todd Lackman was selected as the 2018 Cleavinger Intern. The internship program runs end of May through end of July.

Todd is from Bozeman, MT and attends Montana State University studying Agriculture Education and Agriculture Business. Being a farm hand himself he has obtained experience operating tillage, planters, sprayers and harvesting equipment as well as irrigation and repairing equipment. He has served as State Treasurer for the Montana FFA Association and the Treasurer/Public Director for the Montana FFA Alumni Association.

Abigail Mueller, 2017

Abigail Mueller has been selected as the 2017 Cleavinger Intern.  She will begin her internship the week of May 15.

Abigail is attending North Dakota State University and pursuing a degree in Agribusiness with a minor in Crop and Weed Sciences.  Her father currently sits on the American Crystal Board of Directors.  Through her internship with ASGA, she will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the processes that achieve a successful and sustainable economic policy in the sugarbeet industry.  She will be able to utilize her family farm experiences and educational background to work on special project that may be used in current or future efforts by the association.

Jack Brainard Intern2016Jack Brainard, 2016

Ada, Minnesota

Jack Brainard has been selected as the 2016 Cleavinger Intern for the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. He will begin his six-week internship on May 31.

Jack is a second-generation beet grower. His parents, John and Janet Brainard, raise sugarbeets on the family farm in Ada, Minnesota. John is a member of the ASGA Board of Directors and the American Crystal Sugar Cooperative Board of Directors.

Jack is pursuing a degree in Business Administration at the North Dakota State University. Through his internship with the ASGA, he will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the processes that achieve a successful and sustainable economic policy in the sugarbeet industry. He will utilize his family farm experience and educational background to work on special projects that may be used in current and future efforts by the Association.

Megan Stevens Intern2015MEGAN STEVENS, 2015

Montevideo, MN

Megan Stevens’ family has been involved in the industry for generations. As an original shareholder in the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, her grandfather started a legacy that continues to this day.  When she first left home after high school, Megan had no intention of returning to agriculture, but after two years of pursuing other interests, she realized that agriculture is a part of who she is.  She changed her major to agricultural economics and became involved in the agriculture world.  Megan accompanied her father to the 2015 ASGA fly-in, and the experience completely changed her perspective on ag politics and the idea of interning with ASGA.

Her internship helped her understand the vast array of issues the ASGA office has to follow and the connections it maintains. She was continually included in conference calls, press release edits, fundraisers and industry and commodity meetings. She also established a good network with other ag interns who were in DC with various programs.  The biggest project she worked on was organizing—and joining–the ASGA Biotech Spokeswomen team.

Megan also launched the ASGA Facebook page and designed it to be a resource for sugarbeet famers to find interesting videos, pictures, and articles to pass along to their non-farming friends while at the same time keeping farmers up to date on what is happening in the sugarbeet world.  One of the biggest learning experiences for her was meeting with the American Sugar Alliance office and learning how the different sugar growers and industry representatives work together in D.C.

Living in Washington D.C. was a great experience, and Megan believes that the communication and public relation skills she developed during her internship will help her as she continues to be an advocate for agriculture and the sugar industry. She plans to continue to be a part of the GMO discussion in her community as a member of the Biotech Spokeswomen team. The understanding she gained of the political system and how deeply ag policy affects how beet growers farm will encourage her to stay informed on what is happening in DC and make sure that her voice is heard when important items are addressed.

Jacob Chisholm, 2014

North Dakota State University

Agricultural Economics

While in Washington, Jacob attended political fundraisers and receptions for, and meetings with, a variety of Senators and House members. He played an active role in monitoring the proceedings surrounding the antidumping and countervailing duty cases (AD/CVD) filed against Mexico by the U.S. sugar industry. He also provided all of the research work on correlating the AD/CVD cases used to defend the U.S. steel industry, so members of Congress from steel districts could understand sugar trade. He also completed numerous research projects, most notably a presentation explaining the safety of genetic engineering and a product price survey to analyze the cost of sugar in food products. The presentation he contributed to will be used to explain the truth and safety of genetic engineering to the public. Jacob also attended the monthly American Sugar Alliance Executive Board meetings and our summer ASGA Board of Directors meeting in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Jacob worked very well with everyone in the ASGA office and always brought thoughtful and innovative advice and ideas to our efforts. He is a well-spoken, focused, and professional individual who was a great asset to our office. Jacob will continue to be an excellent spokesperson for sugarbeet farmers and the sugarbeet industry. It was truly a rewarding experience for all of us at ASGA to have the pleasure of working with Jacob. We are so proud of Jacob’s accomplishments and look forward to watching him pursue and succeed in his future endeavors.

2013 No intern program available

Leah Kramer, 2012

Concordia College
Global Studies, History & Art History
During the Summer of 2012, Leah Kramer had the pleasure to live and work in Washington, D.C as part of the Bill Cleavinger Internship Program. Working closely with the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, Leah was able to extend her knowledge of current agricultural issues and observe first-hand the efforts and intricacies behind farm policy. Throughout her eight weeks in Washington, Leah was able to participate in various projects and events related to the legislating of a new farm bill, biotechnology, labelling initiatives and other issues that are currently on the forefront of sugar production around the United States. These projects included researching various manufacturing companies financial information for public relations purposes, helping the transition from traditional dossiers to electronic versions, preparing information for the summer board meeting, and assisting with public outreach efforts relating to the farm bill . She also completed a price survey and updated graphs for the American Sugar Alliance.
Leah had the opportunity to meet many different congressional representatives and several staff members during fundraising events. Leah discovered the depth of influence that these staff members having in assisting their representatives of current congressional issues. Along with this, Leah was able to meet several representatives from Monsanto, Syngenta, and CropLife America which helped contribute to her deeper understanding and interest in biotechnology, and the role it plays in the modern sugar industry. In addition to attending fundraisers, Leah sat in on multiple meetings including Sugar Industry Biotech Council conference calls, American Sugar Alliance meetings, and several House of Representatives staff briefings.
Leah’s experience as the ASGA summer intern was especially rewarding as she was able to form a deeper connection with the industry that has been such an integral part of her life. Leah is very appreciative of the chance to work and learn in Washington, D.C. that the Bill Cleavinger Internship Provided. She is extremely grateful to all those that made this opportunity possible. She looks forward to being able to return to Minnesota with an entirely new perspective on how deeply legislation can affect the agriculture process, and how important young leadership is to the future of farming.

Heather Carlquist, 2011

University of Oklahoma
Political Science & History

Heather Carlquist was selected as the 2011 Cleavinger Intern. She was born and raised in Eden, Idaho on her parent’s farm. After eighteen years on the farm, Heather left to attend college at the University of Oklahoma, where she will return in the fall as year senior. She is double majoring in History, with an emphasis in American History, and Political Science. Eventually, she hopes to be a high school history and government teacher.

With a history major, Heather could have come to Washington for a variety of different internships more closely related to her field of study, but the Cleavinger Internship was an experience that she felt she could learn much more from. Combining her knowledge of what it is like to grow up on a farm with her fascination of government and its functioning, the opportunity to work with the ASGA and see these two facets of her life work together is something that Heather is excited for. She hopes to be able to return home to Idaho with a greater understanding of how the other aspect of farming, the farming that has to take place in suits and ties, works and its intricacies while also being able to take back to Oklahoma a new appreciation and understanding of government and the experience of spending a summer working in the nation’s capital to share with her future students.

Ashlyn Gurley, 2010

University of Michigan
Political Science & Environmental Studies

During the summer of 2010, Ashlyn Gurley had the pleasure of living and working in Washington, D.C. for the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. During her experience, she was excited to explore Washington
and observe firsthand all of the work that goes into creating farm policy.

Ashlyn had the privilege of accompanying ASGA staff to many different events, including meetings with the American Sugar Alliance, agriculture committee hearings, and meetings concerning climate change, biotechnology and biofuel research. She also attended many fundraisers, through which she was able to meet twenty-two congressman and four senators. She also met with representatives from Syngenta agribusiness and Agricultural Legislative Assistants for Congressman Mark Schauer and Senator Debbie Stabenow to learn about future careers in Agriculture.

She did a variety projects for the ASGA, including researching candy and food company financial information for public relations purposes, updating and designing the annual directory, compiling dossiers, preparing information for the summer board meeting, and assisting with lobbying disclosure forms. She also completed a price survey and updated graphs for the American Sugar Alliance.

The biggest project Ashlyn completed was creating a report analyzing raw cane sugar imports using maritime shipping records. She compiled and organized extensive amounts of data to illustrate trends between growing seasons in different hemispheres and the timelines of USDA import quota announcements.

When she wasn’t in the office, she enjoyed immersing herself in Washington’s cultural and social scene. She toured many sites around town, including the White House, the Capitol, Mt. Vernon, the Smithsonian Museums, the Archives, Library of Congress and the National Cathedral. She also attended a show at the Kennedy Center and even made a weekend trip to New York with some friends she met at American University. She also enjoyed weekend hotel pool parties, going to Memorial Day festivities at the Capitol, and seeing the Fourth of July fireworks at the National Mall.

Ashlyn’s past involvement with Michigan Sugar and her agricultural background made this experience amazing because she gained an insider perspective into the sugar industry and how policy is created. She is truly thankful for all of the mentoring and insight she received from everyone at the ASGA and is extremely grateful to all those who made this opportunity possible.

Dane Braun, 2009

North Dakota State University
Agribusiness & Applied Economics

For 8 weeks in the summer of 2009, Dane Braun enjoyed working as the ASGA summer intern. During his time at Washington, D.C., Dane was able to discover the different aspects of the city and of United States’ politics.

Dane had the opportunity to meet thirteen congressional representatives and several staff members during fundraising events. Dane discovered that the staff members are very influential in assisting representatives with their decision making process on a particular vote. He had the opportunity to have coffee with the Legislative Assistant of Agriculture for Representative Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, where he learned about further career opportunities in agriculture and politics.

In addition to attending fundraisers, Dane sat in on multiple meetings including Sugar Industry Biotech Council conference calls, American Sugar Alliance meetings, Farm Foundation forum, and House Agriculture Committee hearings.

The biggest project Dane completed during internship was the graphs he produced for Jack Roney, who is the economist for American Sugar Alliance. The graphs dealt with the United States and Mexico sugar industries. Dane also conducted a Sugar Price Survey for the American Sugar Alliance that computed the percentage cost of sugar in a particular product.

During his off time, Dane enjoyed spending time with his new friends he met at the dorms of American University. One of the best experiences for Dane outside of work was kayaking down the Potomac River with a friend he met in the dorms. Dane also toured the capital, watched the 4th of July fireworks, played beach volleyball on the National Mall, attended two Washington Nationals baseball games, toured Mount Vernon, watched a show at the Kennedy Center, and toured multiple monuments in Washington.

Dane’s family involvement in the Sugarbeet industry helped make the work he completed at the summer internship more rewarding for him. Dane is very appreciative of the opportunity he had to live, learn and work in Washington, D.C. that the Bill Cleavinger Internship at ASGA gave him.

Lisa Widner, 2008

North Dakota State University
Music Education & Communications

During the summer of 2008, Lisa Widner was able to spend seven unforgettable weeks in Washington, D.C. working as the ASGA summer intern. Lisa especially enjoyed her internship because she was able to participate in many activities.

Lisa attended many meetings during her internship including: Sugar Industry BioTech Council meetings, American Sugar Alliance meetings, lawyer discussions, and the summer board of directors meeting. Lisa also attended many fundraisers for members of congress. Although Lisa enjoyed meeting many members of congress, she enjoyed even more watching the sugar representatives visit with and educate our members of congress on vital issues from back home.

Another one of Lisa’s major activities was assisting the office in preparing a presentation Luther presented to Monsanto in St. Louis about the 2010 tech fee. Lisa also assisted the office in preparation for the summer board of directors meeting.

When Lisa wasn’t busy attending meetings or assisting the office, she focused on her two internship projects. The first project was “Sugar User Businesses by Congressional District” and her second project was the sugar price survey for the American Sugar Alliance. Lisa’s projects were made available to the entire sugar industry.

When Lisa was not busy with work, she took time to enjoy the city of Washington D.C. One of Lisa’s favorite experiences was attending Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure Fundraiser at the Newseum. The event included speeches by members of congress, movie stars, and the founder ofSusan G. Komen. Lisa’s congressman Collin Peterson also performed with his band The Second Amendments at the event. Lisa also attended the 4th of July fireworks at the national mall, a Nationals baseball game, the Smithsonian museums, the National Mall, the Folk Life Festival, the Arlington Cemetery, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, Georgetown, Old Town, the National Cathedral, and a Potomac river boat tour.

Lisa’s experience as the ASGA summer intern was rewarding because she was able to do work that helped an industry that has been such a large part of her life. Lisa will always remember her internship in Washington D.C.and is thankful for all of her experiences she was given through the ASGA summer internship program.

Karen Lewis, 2007

Western Michigan University
Mathematics & Economics

Karen currently attends Western Michigan University where she is majoring in both general mathematics and economics, as well as a minor in comparative religion.

Having lived on a Sugarbeet farm her entire life, Karen has seen first hand how deeply legislation can affect the farming process. While in Washington, D.C., Karen got the opportunity to experience the many different aspects of our Association.

Learning Experiences

  • 2007 Farm Bill
  • House Subcommittee “Markup” on Specialty Crops
  • General Commodities Committee “Markup”
  • Accompanied professional and grower lobbyist on Hill visits
  • ASGA Board of Directors Meeting


  • Research for Biotech Committee
  • Compiled over 300 dossiers for lobbying appointments
  • ASGA Summer Board Meeting Preparation

Cultural Experience and Education

  • Arlington Cemetery
  • Air & Space Museum
  • D.C. United Soccer game
  • White House
  • Vietnam and Korean War Memorial
  • WWII Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Played on congressional softball team
  • 4th of July on National Mall
  • Folk Life Festival

Kelly Cleavinger, 2006

Midwestern State University

The 2006 ASGA Cleavinger Intern was Kelly Cleavinger, from Hereford, Texas. She is the granddaughter of Bill Cleavinger, past President of ASGA (1988-1990), and the Internship was established by her family in Bill’s memory. Kelly took advantage of the many opportunities to experience the greatest number and widest range of the different aspects of our Association and Washington, DC.

Kelly attended hearings of the Ways and Means Committee on U.S-Peru Free Trade Agreement and tracked the debate and vote on the U.S.-Oman FTA. She attended a sugar industry meeting of 30 sugar industry CEOs and grower leaders; a Summer ASGA Board Meeting, and various meetings of the American Sugar Alliance.

With her farm and ranch background, Kelly understands agricultural issues, but she now has a much greater understanding of our government’s role in agriculture and the role of the ASGA in representing the interests of sugarbeet growers. Her projects included an update of the industry’s international trade briefing book; a food price survey; and work on the ASGA website. Some of the highlights for her were meeting members of Congress, experiencing the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital, and attending the Board of Directors meeting. It was truly a rewarding experience for both Kelly and the ASGA staff, and it was a pleasure to have her with us.

Tina Mauch, 2005

tinamauchUniversity of North Dakota

The American Sugarbeet Growers Association had the good fortune of selecting Tina Mauch as our 2005 Summer Intern. Having been raised on a farm, Tina understood agricultural issues, but she now has a much greater understanding of our government’s role in agriculture. During her internship, Tina got the opportunity to experience the many different aspects of our association, national/international policies, and politics.

Here are a few of those experiences:

Learning Experiences

  • Senate Finance Committee “Mock Markup” on the Central America Free Trade Agreement
  • U.S. International Trade Commission Hearing
  • Senate Debate on CAFTA
  • Senate Sweetener Caucus Meeting
  • United States Department of Agriculture Workshop
  • Sugar Industry Meeting
  • U.S. Sugar Industry Representative Meetings
  • ASGA Summer Board Meeting


  • International Trade Briefing Book for the U.S. Sugar Industry
  • ASGA 2005 Directory
  • ASGA Website
  • Powerpoint presentation on the Federal Budget

Culture Experiences and Education

  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Smithsonian museums
  • Waterfront Festival in Old Town Alexandria, VA
  • 4th of July on the National Mall
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival
  • “Monuments by Moonlight” Tour
  • Wolf Trap Theater
  • Washington Nationals Game