Hunter Thad Howard

Hunter Thad Howard has 2 articles published.

Fast Times at Texas Peanut Board

Lindsay Hamer has been working for peanut farmers for over a year and has found her niche in the communications field (and the peanut field.)

When Lindsay Hamer started her communications internship at the Texas Peanut Producers Board, she thought she had a good understanding of what her day-to-day responsibilities would be: writing press releases, making social media posts, and answering phones. But as she climbed into the 8-foot tall Tex P. Nut mascot uniform, she started to wonder what she had gotten herself into.

Junior agricultural communications major Lindsay Hamer accepted the position of Texas Peanut Producers Board intern last April after being recommended by Cindy Akers, Ph.D., associate dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“I was recommended by Dr. Akers which was very scary,” Hamer said. “I’m seeing an email from Dr. Akers that just says ‘Lindsay’ on it and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’m getting expelled.”

Rather than being expelled, Hamer ended up with a recommendation for a job. Dr. Akers told Hamer her personality matched that of those currently working at TPPB and she would be a great fit for the job.

After applying and interviewing for the position, TPPB wasted no time letting Hamer know she was the top candidate for the job.

“I think one day went by, and Hallie texted me and said I needed to come back,” Hamer said. “I started my first office job and got to take the reins of that position.”

One of the best aspects of the internship is being able to express herself creatively through graphic design, writing and pitching project ideas.

“The nice thing about working for a small commodity group is that you have a lot of free reign to use your own creativity and then they are there for support and back up,” Hamer said. “Hallie and Shelly have been incredible mentors and role models. They have helped me feel more confident in my ideas in my design and everything along the way.”

Hamer said her experience at TPPB has made her career goals clear.

“Before I started here, I was interested in graphic design and kind of that whole aspect of designing things and layouts,” Hamer said. “Now that I’ve had experience with that, I think it’s kind of still the track I’m going. I like marketing and PR campaigns and every job that I’ve had here has been an overview of pretty much every communications aspect that I’ve learned at Tech so far.”

Hamer appreciates the opportunity to work at a wonderful place with wonderful people, like her boss, Shelly Nutt.

Hamer jumps for joy with Mr. Tex P. Nut when she helps out peanut farmers everywhere.

TPPB Executive Director Shelly Nutt has nothing but high praise for Hamer.

“She’s coming up with new programs,” Nutt said. “She comes in one day and she was like, ‘For March, I kind of think I want to do this recipe campaign,’ and it’s this major intense recipe development program that she wants to do through social media. And I’m thinking and I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but get after it.”

Hamer’s dedication to being creative and switching up the norm is one of her most valuable qualities, Nutt said.

“Lindsay did our weather channel baskets for us,” Nutt said. “That is a 100 percent intern project. Every single intern has to do this project for me. We have a whole book of instructions on how it’s got to be done so that it’s done the same way every year. Lindsay came in and was like, ‘I don’t know why we’re doing it this way because this is really not efficient,’ and I said, ‘We’ve always done it that way, but you’re also 100 percent right. It’s not efficient anymore. It was efficient 10 years ago.’”

The meteorologist baskets sent out are a TPPB initiative to gain publicity for National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. Since the beginning of the promotion, TPPB has asked meteorologists from local TV networks across the state that if they will feature it on their channel, to upload the video, download it onto a USB and mail it back to the TPPB.

Hamer suggested the channels tweet the video so it would be instantly accessible to their audience.

“Of course, we got a whole lot more response,” Nutt said. “She’s innovative and thinking through what we’ve done and how she can make it better. She does everything around here and she just does it well.”

Nutt said one of the best qualities an intern candidate can have is to be bold.

“I love bold personalities,” Nutt said. “The people that can come into my office like Lindsay does and say, ‘Guess what I thought up? I want to do this!’ I love that.”

I could not have asked for a better internship.

Past Intern Experiences

Former TPPB intern and agricultural communications alumnae Adeline Fox now works at the Texas Water Conservation Association as the communications director. Fox said her time as a TPPB intern was extremely valuable to her professional development.

“Working with Texas Peanut Producers Board was a superb experience,” Fox said. “It was the first real communications job I had in college. TPPB staff members really wanted to share their knowledge and prepare me for future jobs. They provided me with many opportunities to work on challenging and fun projects.”

Fox’s favorite part about her time at TPPB was her opportunity to lead the Texas Peanut Leadership tour which brings in farmers from across the Southwest to Lubbock.

Although the internship is competitive, Fox encourages those who like a challenge, want to learn, and want to grow to apply.

“I would recommend the Texas Peanut Producers Board internship to anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding experience,” Fox said. “The staff and work assignments will prepare any student who is looking to work in the agricultural communications field after college.”

Gaining invaluable skills like graphic design, project planning, and writing have helped Fox in every job she has had since her TPPB internship.

“Working with Texas Peanut Producers Board provided me with great experience and work samples that helped me get my first job,” Fox said. “By the time I stepped into the world after college, I already had the mindset of an adult because of the responsibilities of my internship required. I could not have asked for a better internship.”

Feeding Peanut Products to Infants Can Reduce Risk for Allergies Later in Life

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A recent study found that feeding infants peanut products can reduce their chance for developing a peanut-related allergy by 86 percent. The National Peanut Producers Board helped fund the study conducted by Dr. Gideon Lack of Kings College in London.

Registered dietitian nutritionist for the National Peanut Producers and expert of food allergies, Sherry Collins, said the study’s results is beneficial to many people.

“This changes the way people view early introduction of peanut foods and changes the number of children who will develop peanut allergies,” Collins said. “It is a very positive outcome for children, families, and peanut farmers.”

The study titled Learning Early About Peanuts, or LEAP, was published in 2015, but additional research is being done every day to further knowledge about peanuts and peanut-related allergies.

A subsequent study was done, LEAP-ON, where researchers asked those involved in LEAP to stop eating peanuts for a year to determine if the tolerance for peanuts was permanent or dependent on the continued consumption of peanut products. The children retained their tolerance for peanuts whether they continued to eat peanuts or not.

Texas Peanut Producers Board Executive Director Shelly Nutt said peanut allergies are often depicted in a negative light in the media.

“The media has kind of sensationalized peanut allergies even though there’s not that many more people who are allergic to peanuts than there are dairy, eggs, and tree nuts,” Nutt said. “But you know when you hear about someone dying from a food allergy, 99.9 percent of the time it’s a peanut.”

With this study being done, the hope from the Texas Peanut Producers Board is that there will be a decrease in food-related allergies. Nutt said she can see a future with no food allergies.

Educating parents about peanut allergies can be a challenge, Nutt said. It is a touchy subject and it can be hard to convince someone to reassess their beliefs.

“It gets really tricky being compassionate and sensitive,” Nutt said, “yet still defending an industry that works so hard to create a safe food supply and let everybody else have access to it. It’s hard to be on this side talking to that parent.”

Nutt said the fear of giving peanuts to children comes from a place of care.

“They’re more concerned about the safety of their child than anything,” Nutt said.  “I would be the same way. But from this side I still just want to be based on science, not fear.”

Per the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the number of people affected by peanut allergies is 0.6 percent of the United States population and with this new research by its side, Texas Peanut Producers Board hopes to put an end to peanut allergies.

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