Iowa Pork welcomes summer interns

Lauren Meier of Bondurant and Kirby Cook of Winthrop are spending their summers interning with the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). Both are Iowa State University students interested in a career in agriculture.

However, their family backgrounds are quite a contrast. Kirby Cook’s family is deeply involved in the pork industry. Lauren Meier’s path to IPPA started a little differently. She did not grow up with an agricultural background, nor did her parents.

“My dad moved into an old farmhouse when I was 13,” Meier said. “We had some empty barns and I convinced him to put them to use. So, I started raising chickens.”

She enjoyed raising chickens so much that her small farming operation eventually expanded to raising goats.

“By the time I graduated high school, we had over 50 chickens, ten goats and three horses,” Meier said. “I did everything myself from the accounting part of it, vaccines, and chores. Literally everything.”

Meier is this year’s promotions and communications intern for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. She is a junior at Iowa State University majoring in Animal Science, with a minor in Agricultural Communication.

Meier has been busy this summer helping with IPPA at summer grilling events, BBQ & Brew at the Ballpark, assisting counties with Bacon Buddies, and preparing for the farrowing display and Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair. Meier interned with the Iowa State Fair last year. “I just want to make a difference,” Meier said.

In her free time, Lauren Meier enjoys hunting and cooking.

Kirby Cook is the son of Aaron and Trish Cook. His mom was the first female president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and she currently serves on organization’s board of directors as past president. Kirby grew up helping on his parents’ farrow-to-finish sow farm in Buchanan County. His sister is an economist for the National Pork Producers Council and his brother is a market analyst for CIH.

“The passion that I have is not only for raising pigs but working with the people that are in the industry,” Cook said. “I think it’s a lot of great, hard-working people that I find myself aligning with. My current goal is to go home and farm and raise pigs after graduation. If not that, I’ll definitely do something that would keep me tied to the industry.”

Kirby Cook is a rising junior at Iowa State, majoring in Agricultural Studies. He is serving as IPPA’s legislative intern this summer. Cook is spending six weeks of his internship in Senator Joni Ernst’s Washington, D.C. office. The second half of his internship will focus heavily on preparing for the Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair. Cook was already a familiar face at the IPPA office before beginning his internship.

“I had the opportunity to serve as an IPPA Youth Ambassador in 2021 and really loved that experience and I feel like the pork industry is what I’m most passionate about so I’m very happy to be serving in this role,” he said.

In his spare time, Kirby Cook enjoys golfing, spending time with his Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity brothers, and occasionally playing video games.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is very pleased to have these two impressive young leaders interning with us this summer.