BOZEMAN – Montana State University senior Allie Nelson said she was honored to learn she had been nominated to represent the entire state of Montana with a prestigious title for young women leaders in the United States.

Nelson, a senior from Great Falls majoring in Agricultural Education and Communications in the MSU College of Agriculture, was named a Cherry Blossom Princess. As a Cherry Blossom Princess, Nelson spent a week in April in Washington, D.C., representing Montana at public and private events held each day and engaging with top government, business, arts and media leaders.

Managed by the National Conference of State Societies, young women leaders are selected as princesses by their state society based on their leadership and academic achievements along with their interest in social, civic, community and world affairs. Alumnae of the Cherry Blossom Princess program include two current U.S. senators: Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Nelson was nominated as a princess by the Montana State Society, a non-partisan social and networking organization for those who are affiliated with Montana and reside in Washington.  She called the week one of the most important networking events of her career.

 “Not only did I gain professional and personal advice, I met 58 other powerful women from across the United States and U.S. territories,” she said. “I am extremely thankful to Jayne Visser with the Montana State Society for encouraging me through this rigorous and enjoyable week. It was an experience of a lifetime.”

At MSU, Nelson has served as a College of Agriculture Agricultural Ambassador, a member of the college’s Young Farmers and Ranchers, and worked with the Montana FFA Foundation to help raise scholarships for future agriculture students. Nelson said she’s looking forward to applying her lifelong love of agriculture and communications to the professional field following her graduation from MSU in May.

This fall, Nelson secured an internship with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with a satellite office in Washington D.C., where she spent a semester supporting NCBA’s communications to the more than 22,000 federal land ranchers in the West. During her internship, Nelson attended hearings in the Capitol, took notes on legislative briefings and assisted with communication outreach projects.  Nelson said the experience gave her a strong passion for land management in advocating on behalf of the 22,000 federal-lands ranchers in the West.

“The internship with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was fascinating and I learned more than I ever imagined,” Nelson said. “The chance to get to learn all about public lands and to see the very real way decisions affect a large percentage of the U.S., was incredible. I’m very interested in how governmental processes are distilled to the public and how communication can deepen public advocacy.”

Upon graduation, Nelson will work as manager of operations and affiliate outreach with the PLC and the NCBA’s Federal Lands program. Nelson attributes her job offer to the guidance of her internship manager, Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and National Council Beef Association, and Shannon Arnold, her MSU faculty adviser and an associate professor of agricultural education and communications.

 “NCBA and PLC offer one of the most impactful and competitive internships in Washington, and Allie is a great example of why we’ve made it a priority,” Lane said. “During her semester in our Washington office she made herself an invaluable part of our team, so it was a natural progression to offer her a full-time spot after graduation.”  

Arnold nominated Nelson for an MSU President’s Emerging Scholars grant, which provided research funding for Nelson during her NCBA internship. Her research project evaluated the preferred communication platforms of Public Lands Council members. Nelson said she applied research methods learned from Arnold’s capstone class on agricultural issues, where senior agricultural education and communications students spend a semester researching issues in agriculture under a social science lens.

“We’re very proud of Allie and all of her accomplishments and we’re particularly pleased she was able to secure a full-time job that followed a worthwhile and rigorous internship,” Arnold said. “I know Allie will utilize the communication skills gained through our program curriculum and experiences. She’s a fantastic student and person.”

The princess program takes place each year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, and includes a week of cultural, educational and professional development opportunities for young women leaders, ages 19 through 24, from the U.S. and around the world.

During the week, Nelson said she received a private tour of the White House, attended a women’s empowerment conference and was recognized at the Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremony, held during the Japanese Lantern Lighting ceremony at the capital’s Tidal Basin. She also attended a reception at the Japanese ambassador’s residence and was escorted to a congressional reception by U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte. Nelson also participated in philanthropic activities that included planting a cherry blossom tree at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute and reading to elementary school children to promote literacy.

The week’s events also included a grand ball. Nelson concluded her week by participating in the Cherry Blossom Festival parade down Constitution Avenue and attending a congratulatory ceremony given by the Montana State Society and Montana delegation.

Source: MSU News 


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