If your college years are primarily about self-discovery and figuring out your vocation, Tessa Erdmann is already well on her way to graduating with top honors.

The rising senior arrived at Paulsen this May to participate in a summer internship. She is on track to earn her bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from South Dakota State University in December and has little doubt in her mind as to what her future holds.

"My goal is to advocate for agriculture," Tessa says without hesitation. "It's why I do what I do."

Part of that focus stems from her upbringing as a fourth-generation farm kid near Groton, South Dakota. "Farming is pretty deep in my roots," she explains. "My dad's very passionate about the agriculture industry. And so growing up, he taught me how to be an advocate."

She also participated in FFA and 4-H activities throughout her childhood and adolescence in Brown County. "I often say I grew up in a show ring," she says, recounting the various livestock she has shown throughout her years of involvement.

Tessa became an FFA state officer at the end of her senior year of high school, which ultimately steered her path toward SDSU. She explored majoring in agricultural education and agricultural business before committing to agricultural communication. Professional internships have included a role at Agtegra Cooperative in Aberdeen as well as working for the marketing and communications team in SDSU's College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES).

"We're excited for the opportunity to help Tessa further explore her gifts and nurture the passion she has for agriculture this summer," says Paulsen President & CEO Marcus Squier. "It is obvious that she cares deeply about this industry and shares our commitment to a big purpose, and we have found that often translates to remarkable work."

At Paulsen, her role will largely center around account services, but she will also have the chance to do some writing. She's excited for that opportunity.

"The stories within agriculture are so incredible to share," says Tessa. "Everybody advocates in different ways, and my way is through writing, communicating, you know, being that voice."

Beyond school and work, Tessa stays connected to agriculture in many other significant ways. She is involved in the Sigma Alpha-Omega chapter at SDSU, served as the on-campus advocate for CAFES last year and communications coordinator for the 101st Little International livestock show at SDSU. She has also traveled internationally to learn about agricultural practices and systems in other countries, including a trip to Australia with SDSU faculty and students in May of this year.