Published on 02/26/18

From Toccoa to the state Capitol, UGA student Madison Hickey helps craft policies to help Georgia agriculture

By Merritt Melancon

It’s 11 a.m. on Thursday, during the Georgia General Assembly’s spring session, and people from all over the state start to the fill the wide hallways of the Georgia Capitol in downtown Atlanta.

It’s noisy, and it’s noticeably warmer inside than the weather outside on this brisk February morning.

“This happens every day about this time,” said Madison Hickey, a senior studying agricultural communication at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

The crowded hallways of the Capitol are a far cry from the small town of Toccoa, Georgia, where Hickey grew up, or even the quiet calm of South Campus at UGA, but it suits her.

Hickey is a legislative intern with the state Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs as part of CAES’s Georgia Legislative Internship. Through this competitive program, students spend 12 weeks working full time at the Georgia Capitol, helping legislators craft policies that will impact the state’s largest industry, agriculture. CAES and the Senate agriculture and consumer affairs committee sponsor the program.

Hickey, who has been interested in the policies that shape agriculture since her days with the FFA Chapter of Stephens County High School in Toccoa, decided to use the legislative internship as a capstone experience for her CAES career.

“I chose to serve as a legislative intern because I believe it is important to have an understanding of the legislative process and how decisions on the state level impact all Georgians,” said Hickey, whose time studying agricultural communication solidified her interest in the policymaking process.

Her experience working with Sen. John Wilkinson, who represents the Toccoa area in the state Senate and serves as chairman of the agriculture and consumer affairs committee, helped her understand how policy decisions are made.

“I have learned that it truly takes a team of individuals working together to develop and pass a bill,” Hickey said.

Hickey credits her agricultural communication courses with preparing her for work at the Capitol.

“Madison has been a tremendous asset to our office this session,” said Sen. Wilkinson about Hickey’s ability to keep up with the fast pace of the Capitol. “She is very bright and has a tremendous work ethic. She has been here every day and has done a great job communicating with constituents and members of the agriculture community.”

After her experience in Atlanta, Hickey will graduate from CAES in May and hopes to pursue a career where she can merge her passions for agricultural policy and agricultural marketing.

CAES's Georgia Legislative Internship is supported with help from the CAES Deans' Promise Fund and the Elliott and Christy Marsh Legislative Internship Fund. 

For more information about the opportunities for leadership available to students attending CAES, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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