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Jeff Will with Congressman Collin Petersen.

Jeff Will with Congressman Collin Peterson, whose office coordinated Will's internship.

Capital gains

Scholarship for a Washington D.C. internship leads to a career in politics

From M, winter 2007

Jeff Will, B.S. '06, didn't have the typical envelope-stuffing, sandwich-fetching college internship in our nation's capital. "Most congressional interns work on constituent letters and run errands," he says. "My internship was policy based." Working next to House Agriculture Committee staff last summer, Will crafted memos and wrote testimony on renewable energy, globalization, and conservation.

A Renewable Fuels Association Scholarship, established through gifts from the 15 ethanol plants in Minnesota, made it all possible. The scholarship supports one University student a semester working as a House Agriculture Committee intern and is coordinated by the office of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

A highlight for Will, a Mendota Heights native, was the Congressional Intern Lecture Series, featuring Washington luminaries such as Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Watching the agriculture committee's commitment to rural America gave Will a new appreciation for public service. "They are the most dedicated public servants I've ever seen," he says. Not only was Will impressed, he was also inspired: Today, he serves as a professional political activist, and he credits the internship with helping to steer him in that direction. "It was an amazing experience," he says, "and I loved every minute of it."