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A day at the capitol with Farm Bureau intern Alexis Wheeler

Representative Dale Zorn and Alexis Wheeler after meeting with members of Michigan Farm Bureau's government relations staff team.
Date Posted: May 31, 2023

Hello, I am Alexis Wheeler, Michigan Farm Bureau’s Public Policy and Commodity Division summer intern. In the fall, I will be entering my senior year at Michigan State University where I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management.

I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with our government relations team in downtown Lansing at the Capitol. To start the morning, the team took me to visit with my local representative, Rep. Dale Zorn from District 34. Through our conversations, I was able to see his passion for serving his community as a representative in the Michigan House. Next, we watched the Senate session. During this time, I was able to watch the senators discuss their opinions and vote on bills that were on their daily agenda.

For lunch, we met with Rep. Sarah Lightner from District 45 and discussed issues under consideration in the House. Through these discussions, I was able to see Rep. Lightner’s love for the agriculture industry. She and her husband own a small farm in Springport and is a proud Jackson County Farm Bureau member. Additionally, Rep. Lightner is the minority chair for the House Appropriations Committee, and it was neat to hear about the budgets her committee is working on.

After lunch, we headed to the Council on Climate Solutions meeting where I heard about the climate change goals that different departments within Michigan government have. Following this meeting, we went to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting where I heard several organizations and individuals voice their opinions on the worldwide “30x30” initiative (watch the recorded hearing). This experience allowed me to see how our legislators interact with the people they represent.

My biggest takeaway from my visit downtown was the importance of building relationships. Our lobbyists want to be familiar faces to Michigan legislators and build relationships with them. Although there were no bills or initiatives being presented relating to Michigan Farm Bureau policy during my visits, our lobbyists were still making their presence known by attending meetings, greeting legislators, and hosting them for lunch. The government relations team showed me what an important job they have serving as the Lansing-based voices for the grassroots Farm Bureau policy that you create.


Alexis Wheeler in front of the state capitol building