LCCC student interns at governor’s residence

Photo of the First Lady and intern Madison Frauendienst in the Governor's Residence looking at printed materialsLaramie County Community College sophomore Madison Frauendienst said she knew she was diving in the deep end when she took on an internship at the Wyoming Governor’s Residence.

Knowing First Lady Jennie Gordon and her chief of Staff Trista Ostrom, Frauendienst said it was clear working with them would mean a fast-paced schedule requiring diligent focus. On her first day as an intern, she helped out at an event promoting the First Lady’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative, a long-term project focusing on food insecurity in Wyoming. Meeting so many people and juggling many responsibilities at once was a lot to take in, but Frauendienst said it was an enlightening experience.

“I’m learning so much about what (the First Lady) does, like with the Hunger Initiative, but she does so many other important things,” she said.

Jennie Gordon is in the second term of her husband Gov. Mark Gordon’s administration. At the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne, the First Lady, Ostrom and Frauendienst sit surrounded by Wyoming art, tables ornately decorated for guests coming that evening and bustling staff addressing the day’s work.

The First Lady’s office had been considering an internship position. Frauendienst, who had been a part of the Wyoming Congressional Award program, was approached by Ostrom about putting together a scrapbook about the First Lady’s work. The scrapbook was so moving for Jennie Gordon, she said, that when Frauendienst’s name came up as a prospect for the internship position, they jumped at the opportunity to bring her on board. 

“When they said (Frauendienst) was available it was a pretty easy decision,” Jennie Gordon said.

Frauendienst, a 19-year-old Cheyenne native, is a Certified Nursing Assistant working as a phlebotomist at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. With her sights set on higher goals, she was accepted into the nursing program at LCCC, where she will work toward her Associate Degree in Nursing. Frauendienst will take part in Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming, or ReNEW, a program of a shared statewide curriculum in nursing providing a streamlined bridge from the associate degree to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

With 80 hours required for the internship, Ostrom said she and the First Lady began developing a schedule that would provide Frauendienst with a rich array of experiences.

“We’re very strategic in picking out things that she’s doing in her 80 hours,” Ostrom said. “We said, let’s give her a Hunger Initiative experience, let’s give her a scheduling a meeting experience, office experience, a travel day. We’re giving her a glimpse of the plethora of things we do.”

Jennie Gordon said she hopes Frauendienst’s experience gives her some idea of the First Lady’s role in the executive branch. Whether it’s raising awareness of the office’s initiatives, meeting constituents or hosting leaders from outside Wyoming, Jennie Gordon hopes the broad scope of responsibility is conveyed.

But amidst all the action, she hopes Frauendienst understands the human element of public service.

“We want the governor’s residence to be the people’s house, and it can seem overwhelming,” Jennie Gordon said. “I think having that understanding that people in government are just people.”

Additionally, the First Lady wants her intern to see how the office can make a difference in communities across the state. Launched in 2019, the Hunger Initiative sees the Wyoming Governor’s Residence Foundation Board of Directors working closely with the First Lady to raise funds to reinvest in anti-hunger organizations across the state, fighting food insecurity for Wyoming children and families. While the work initially focused on children, Jennie Gordon said it has evolved to include others in need, such as veterans and older residents. During the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas beginning Aug. 15, Frauendienst will assist the First Lady in Hunger Initiative Day.

“It will be important for Madison to see people coming together in a statewide effort to raise awareness of food security,” Jennie Gordon said.

Frauendienst is a young person with her ambitions clearly focused. After she graduates from LCCC, she hopes to gain some experience in an Intensive Care Unit, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

She said she’s not sure how civil service will play a role in her future after the internship with the governor’s residence ends. For now, Frauendienst said she’s focused on enjoying the experience, moment by moment.

“I’m going to come away with a lot of great connections with different, amazing people, and I think in a community like this, that is something you can’t put a price on,” she said.