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C of I student Thornberry interns in nation’s capital

Every summer since she was 12 years old, College of Idaho senior Morgan Thornberry has visited her grandmother in Washington D.C., falling in love with the city in the process.

Thornberry is back in the nation’s capital this summer, but for different reasons. She’s still staying with her grandmother, but instead of a vacation, the political economy major from Idaho Falls is hard at work as a summer intern for the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Country and Regional Affairs (OCRA).

“An internship in Washington D.C. has been something I have dreamed about for years,” Thornberry said. “I wanted the opportunity to work within the city and it finally happened. It’s a dream come true.”

OCRA is instrumental in providing the Department of Agriculture with detailed analysis on many key countries, allowing the department to best shape strategies for trade policy and foreign policy regarding U.S. agricultural interests. With more than 160 active embassies around the world, OCRA is one of the best places to gain experience in international relations – Thornberry’s career path of choice.  

“I’m really interested in international relationships and how different countries work together,” Thornberry said. “During my interviews, the Department of Agriculture officials I met with said the most important thing is to understand how to work with people and build relationships.”

Thornberry secured the OCRA internship through active exploration, as well as a family history with the Department of Agriculture. Her grandmother had spent a number of years working closely with the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. This connection gave Thornberry a chance to learn more about opportunities with OCRA, culminating in a series of interviews with the Foreign Agriculture Service during her trip to D.C. with the College’s Model United Nations team in October.

Most of Thornberry’s responsibilities to date have been with OCRA’s Europe desk, helping prepare briefing books for Secretary Vilsack’s trip to Europe.  Her duties include printing, editing, organizing and even writing papers for the briefing books. She will have similar tasks over the next few weeks at other regional desks, including the Western Hemisphere, Africa and the Middle East.

Thornberry credits the C of I with giving her the tools she needs to succeed with OCRA.

“The College of Idaho has given me the confidence to do this job,” she said. “I walked in on the first day knowing that I could write and make an argument. I knew that I had the hard work and the discipline to get any job done.”

 Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 12 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit