View from the Hill

Congressional Ag Fellows learn about crafting ag policy in D.C.


This past summer, seven students from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences immersed themselves in agricultural policy and the culture of Capitol Hill by working closely with members of Georgia’s U.S. congressional delegation as part of the CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellows. 

The students spent 12 weeks working in a U.S. congressional office preparing briefs, attending committee hearings, conducting research for congressional staffers, and providing information and perspective on agricultural issues.

The 2019 fellows included:

Katelyn Bickett, a sophomore agricultural communications major from Chickamauga, Georgia, who worked in Rep. Buddy Carter’s office

Reaganne Coile, a junior agricultural communications major from Bogart, Georgia, who worked in Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office

Alyson Dallas, a senior agribusiness major from Griffin, Georgia, who worked in Sen. David Perdue’s office

Morgan Hart, a junior agricultural education major from Moultrie, Georgia, who worked in Rep. Rick Allen’s office

James Matthews, a junior agribusiness major from Barnesville, Georgia, who worked in Rep. Sanford Bishop’s office

Ben Parker, a junior applied biotechnology major from Perry, Georgia, who worked in Rep. Austin Scott’s office

Cam Shepherd, a senior agricultural and applied economics major from Athens, Georgia, who worked in Rep. Doug Collins’s office

The Congressional Agricultural Fellowship is a CAES experiential learning initiative funded by Georgia EMC and the Georgia Agribusiness Council. Since 1997, more than 100 students have participated in the program, which helps develop the next generation of agricultural policy makers by introducing them to the inner workings of Washington, D.C.

Christy Cromley Seyfert (BSA – Food Science, ’98) was the first CAES student to serve as a Congressional Agricultural Fellow, in the office of former U.S. Congressman Saxby Chambliss.

“After a 20-plus year career in public policy, I’m grateful for the opportunities resulting from an idea and experiment of then-Congressman Chambliss and UGA CAES leaders and made possible by program sponsors,” said Seyfert, executive director of government affairs for the American Soybean Association. 

“At the time, I knew that placement with the Chambliss office was an incredible honor. I was the first and certainly didn’t want to be the last in this experiment, so I made every effort that summer to learn about public policy, serve wherever needed, and maintain a positive attitude. This approach helped me become the first in a line of many talented individuals who have participated in this successful, expanded program,” she said. “In my case, this program changed the trajectory of my career, allowing me to work with outstanding policymakers and companies to support agriculture.”

Now Seyfert shares her own career experiences and encourages students through the UGA Mentor Program. For more information on the program, visit 

By Merritt Melancon

Ag Fellows 2019
University of Georgia students Jake Matthews, Morgan Hart, Katelyn Bickett, Reaganne Coile, Alyson Dallas, Cam Shepherd and Ben Parker spent their summer in Washington, D.C., as part of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Congressional Agricultural Fellows Program.