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A True Learning Experience

August 20, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Sara McManus
(photo by Photo by Jack Coady)
By Sara McManus
When a person thinks about an intern, the words training, learning, and gaining practical experience comes to mind. All of those things, and so much more, were true of my internship at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Graduation requirements for journalism students at Iowa State University require an accredited journalism and communication internship. When I signed on at Prairie Meadows, I had no idea how many privileged opportunities were headed my direction. I suppose I should have guessed, based on the vast range of events and entertainment at Prairie Meadows, that there would be countless ways to experience and learn how a 1,450 employee not-for-profit corporation operates.

During this time, I met Chris Lincoln, the ‘Voice of the Thoroughbreds,’ interviewed a leading research veterinarian who provides consultation to veterinarians at the racetrack, and was involved behind the scenes in one of the outdoor concerts and with the Prairie Meadows groundbreaking press conference. From all that and more, I experienced as much as any intern could hope for.

When I first started in May, I was not familiar with the horse racing industry, but soon caught the fever. I had the opportunity to go on a barn tour and see all the ins and outs of horse racing from the jockey quarters, (I was shocked at the size of the jockey saddles,) to the morning workouts, to the horse stables. I also had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Chris Lincoln, the on-air talent on Wire-to-Wire during the Prairie Meadows Festival of Racing over the Fourth of July Weekend. I had the opportunity to witness behind the scenes production of the Grade II Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup Handicap. It was such an amazing race; so incredible, actually, that it raised the hair on my arms as the horses charged down the stretch. During my interview with Chris Lincoln, he provided some great insight about his career in journalism and broadcasting.

I had the opportunity to meet Scott McClure, D.V.M., Ph.D., and assistant professor at Iowa State University, who is conducting research on gastric ulcers in racehorses. I also had the opportunity to watch him perform a procedure on the backside. Not only was McClure gentle and compassionate with the horse, but also his veterinarian aides, the horse’s trainer, and all the other individuals helping truly cared for the horse.

During my years at college, many different people have advised me to gain experience in the industry. After my time at Prairie Meadows, I could not agree more. My Grandma Jean has always told me, “Sara, you learn something new everyday.” My internship was a direct reflection of this insightful truth; I learned many new ‘somethings’ every day working as an intern at Prairie Meadows. This internship was full of new learning experiences and a great preparation for a career. To everyone at Prairie Meadows and, especially Mary Lou, thanks for this opportunity!