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Big Dreams in Big Sky Country

Big Dreams in Big Sky Country

By Elena Boxey
Cloud Photo Credit: Michigan State University

Standing among the cowboys, their palms sweaty and eyes locked on the eight-second timer, was a sight that I will never forget. The athletes jumped in nervousness as their bull was loaded into the shoot. “READY and GO!” The gate flew open and the “fight for eight” started.

This past October, I flew to Billings, Montana, to work as the media intern for the Northern International Livestock Exposition, a national livestock exposition and rodeo. NILE is a dedicated leader in promoting agricultural education while bringing people together to celebrate western culture, as well as pursue public outreach efforts to strengthen and grow the livestock and rodeo industries.

NILE is a non profit organization run by a small team, various boards, a foundation, and volunteers that work diligently to put on this historic event. Because it is a small organization, I was given a lot of creative freedom and trust when it came to representing them on their media platforms.

As a Midwest livestock junkie — and an agricultural, food, and natural resources education major — I know the late nights and cups of coffee it takes to prepare for and exhibit at a national livestock show. This internship allowed me to combine my passions for agriculture, media management and public relations into one experience. I learned that whatever your career goals are, there are experiences and people out there that want to help you make your dreams into reality.

As the media intern, my objective was to promote, publicize and increase media engagement among donors, participants, sponsors and the public on all media channels. The first few days of my internship were filled with learning about their brand and helping the team prepare for the week ahead.

During my time at NILE, I also had the opportunity to promote events on various radio channels, photograph rodeo events, publish press releases and even give the announcer seat a try. I was handed the biggest platform that I had ever managed and was told to run with it!

Internships are interdisciplinary experiences that allow you to put the skills you learn in the Department of Advertising + PR to life.

The most important experience I had at NILE was practicing my interpersonal skills. So much of my time was spent talking to participants and connecting with professionals. Every person I met helped me expand my ability to form meaningful relationships quickly.

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I encourage any student who is on the fence about applying for an internship or job where they might not feel confident in their abilities to take the leap. When I put my fears aside, I met people that wanted me to see me succeed and formed connections that will be instrumental in my future career in public relations and agriculture.

The State of Montana will always hold a special place in my heart. Being entrusted with representing and telling the story of those that have dedicated their lives to feeding the world and keeping the western way of life alive was an experience I will be forever grateful for.

Whatever your passions, work to combine them. You never know where your dreams could lead!

Check out or @nile_stockshow on Instagram to see more highlights from my internship!