His exploits in the field of agriculture have take Ryan Mathews lots of places. This week they landed him in a seat behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s desk at the White House.
A 2016 graduate of Fairfield High School in Leesburg, Mathews is working this summer as an intern in Washington, D.C. with the American Farm Bureau Federation for its leadership and educational engagement department.
Mathews also served terms in 2016-17 as the Ohio FFA vice president and in 2017-18 at the Ohio FFA president, and he said that through some of the connections he made in those positions, he became close to a former vice president of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Mathews said his friend was in Washington, D.C. this week and the friend invited Mathews to the White House to sit in on conversations about U.S. ag policy.
While Mathews was mingling with some of the people on hand for the occasion in the White House’s Ceremonial Room, he said Jon Hickey, special advisor to Pence on domestic policy, asked him if he would like to have his picture taken sitting at the Roosevelt Desk that now serves as Pence’s desk.
“I said absolutely,” Mathews said.
President Theodore Roosevelt had the table made in 1903, President Harry Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan while sitting at the desk, and Woodrow Wilson was the first vice president to use the desk, according to Mathews.
“It was powerful,” Mathews said. “It was also, I guess, inspiring to think of all the choices made and powerful people that sat at that desk.”
Mathews said he arrived in D.C. for his internship on June 14 and will depart Aug. 16.
During some time he spent with Ohio Farm Bureau, Mathews said he visited the nation’s capital and became interested in agricultural communications and politics. So he decided to see if there was an internship available in those areas this summer in Washington, D.C.
“The first place I looked for an internship was American Farm Bureau and I just got really lucky and got the first one I applied for,” Mathews said.
He said he did not get to meet Pence this week, but has done some interesting things in D.C. when he’s not busy with work. He said he toured the White House’s West Wing, “secretly stuck an entire foot” in the Oval Office, saw the Press Room and stood at its podium, and watched President Trump’s Fourth of July speech on the National Mall.
This fall while he is a student at Ohio State University, Mathews said he will be serving as an intern with Congressman Troy Balderson.
He said he is still trying to figure out what he wants to do when he graduates from college. He said he may go to grad school, may go to law school, or might try something else.
“Basically, I just want to end up working on ag policy one day,” Mathews said. “I want to branch out and see more policy on a broader perspective, how it all fits together with agriculture, and work into that.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.