Patience. Connection. Repetition.

I am currently on my third internship in the agricultural industry and am continuously learning more and more every day on the job. If there’s one realization that I have came to this summer through my grain sales internship with Cargill it is these three things are crucial in our industry: patience, connection and repetition.

This past week, I met with an older grower who is not very advanced in technology. It has taken us a couple shots to get a time that worked to meet for both of us and we finally found a time. At the beginning of the appointment he wasn’t too keen on learning more about the website.

Cargill Ag is our online platform for growers to manage their account with Cargill. They are able to view contracts, settlements, scale tickets and more, that pertain to their specific account. It is truly a great tool to assist growers in managing their risk.

I began the appointment by asking how the grower currently managed his account with Cargill. He simply replied, “Well, I call-in and talk to my farm marketer. That’s pretty much it and it works.” I followed his response by asking what he enjoyed through his management process and if there was anything he wish he had the ability to do.

Other than responding with the opportunity to sell $6 corn, his answers made a great segue into the presentation, however, I wanted to know more about what he was thinking. I continued asking questions pertaining to getting his contracts signed and turned in, how his management practices work during harvest, amongst others. After waiting patiently for the answers I was seeking, we began looking through the website.

The deeper we went into the presentation the more questions he began to ask. He was curious. He began wanting to learn, not being forced to. He slowly started to see the benefits in a new way to manage his account.

He had various questions on his current contracts and his account in general. While being able to answer those in confidence, he began becoming more relaxed.

After I walked him through the website on my iPad. We were able to set up his account and save his log-in credentials on his smart phone so that he didn’t have to worry about continuously typing them in each time he wanted to log on. At this point, the appointment changed directions and we made a connection as he realized I was able to make a difference in his management practices.

Screen shot of Cargill Ag

Screen shot of Cargill Ag

I ended the appointment by asking what other questions he had, knowing fully that he was going to have some and was hoping to walk through some of the features again to ensure he would remember. He asked, “Can you show me how you found that old contract again?” Repetition. I was glad he asked and was thrilled to show him again how to work through parts of the website he wasn’t clear on.

I can say with confidence that when I left this grower, he was glad he took the time to learn. I was thanked for my time and for the help I offered. It was easily one of the best, one of my favorite and one of the longest appointments I had so far this summer. Every minute was worth it knowing that I truly made a long term impact on how he managed his operation.

In June, I listened to California Secretary of Agriculture and she explained to a room full of young agriculturalists that, “People won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

I’ve been pondering on that statement since our acquaintance and after this appointment with the grower, I can truly see the value in those words. I hope that in all of my further appointments and encounters even outside my internship I’m able to be vulnerable and show how deeply I care about our industry and the success of those at the core of our industry.

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Growing Knowledge in Crop Science

As you may know, I truly enjoy traveling the country side and learning along the way. Sunday through Tuesday I attended Agriculture Future of America‘s first Crop Science Institute located in central Iowa.

The institute was kicked off with an executive panel including professionals such as:

  • Moderator: Dr. Howard Brown, GROWMARK, Inc.
  • Gwyn Schramm, Monsanto Company
  • Steve Reno, DuPont Pioneer
  • Matt Plitt, Valent USA Corporation
  • Kevin Eye, WinField, A Land O’Lakes Company

Each executive brought tremendous insight and advice to the room full of 60 some collegiate students from across the country. Questions and topics discussed ranged from millennials entering the work force, post-undergraduate opportunities, GMOs, water quality and more. The panel was followed up with dinner including the executives at our tables.

Monday the students split into five tour groups. My tour group visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs where the ethanol plant is a user of Syngenta‘s Enogen product. Our next stop was a Technology Development location for Monsanto in Atlantic where we learned different trials ranging from variable rate seeding to corn root worm. In the afternoon we went to Adair to tour a Helena Chemical location learning about the various products and assets on the facility. Our last stop was at GROWMARK, Inc. in Stuart at a dry fertilizer location. It was a fairly new facility and state of the art.

OSU alumni, Caroline Weihl and myself at SIRE

OSU alumni, Caroline Weihl and myself at SIRE

Monday evening was the industry dinner where professionals from the various tour stops and other near by professional congregated to network and help the young leaders in attendance grow in their knowledge of the industry and as a leaders.

Tuesday kicked off with a Careers in Crop Science Round Table discussion where students had the chance to interact with industry professionals in small groups asking desired questions. Next, the group split into two and attended current trend sessions over biotechnology and information technologies. The institute wrapped up shortly after lunch and students departed back to their summer locations, however, it was a general agreement amongst the students of a very beneficial experience!

AFA Student Leadership at the Crop Science Institute

Some of AFA Student Leadership at the Crop Science Institute

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Safety. Personal and Professional. It’s Important.

The beginning of this week was spent in recovery coming off of a high from our July Student Advisory Team meeting. I began working on my project and planning out the week. I was also preparing for my supervisor to ride along on appointments with me.

Monday evening I attended the Boone County Fair’s Combine Derby and 2-Car-Chain Race. I have never been to either of those before! Mostly in Ohio we have pick up truck and tractor pulls or demolition derbies. It was a neat and fun experience!

Wednesday I traveled to Grand Island to Raising Nebraska for Cargill Ag Horizon’s West Region’s Safety Kick-Off. Cargill truly believes that every accident can be prevented. After working for Cargill for three months, I have noticed my safety awareness and knowledge has increased, and I too, believe that every accident can be prevented.

During the Safety Kick-Off we spent time rotation between 14 stations varying from on farm safety, fire extinguisher safety, vehicle safety and more. It was a great experience and a great way to jump start the new fiscal year with safety in the fore front of our minds in our job and in our personal lives.

Wednesday evening I attended the Boone County Fair’s concert with my college roommate, Amanda Koch. Amanda is now a Farm Marketer Trainee working out of Omaha.

Amanda and I at the concert.

Amanda and I at the concert.

On Thursday, Kevin Hoffschneider, my supervisor, shadowed me during my on farm calls. I might’ve been slightly nervous which was shown through my performance. We visited three customers and assured each of them felt better about their use on Cargill Ag before the appointment was over.

I spent the weekend relaxing and went to the Calamus Lake on Saturday to take in the nice, sunny weather.

View from the jet ski at the Calamus Lake.

View from the jet ski at the Calamus Lake.

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Opening Eyes, Building Partnerships

This week was focused around my project on Cargill Ag. I spent the first three days of the week meeting with customers and riding with a farm marketer.

Thursday, I headed east to Omaha for Agriculture Future of America‘s Student Advisory Team‘s July meeting. Thursday evening we had dinner with professionals around the Omaha area.

Friday we spent the morning visiting our partner, Union Pacific, and learning more about their business at their Headquarters. After our visit, we traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to visit with three other partners: DuPont Pioneer, Helena Chemical Company and INTL FCStone.

Standing in front of UP's welcome screen

Standing in front of UP’s welcome screen

These visits served as a great opportunity to connect and grow with AFA’s partners and foster our partnership. It also serves as a great opportunity to members of the team to learn more on what all is offered in the industry for full time opportunities. My eyes were definitely opened to new, exciting doors to pursue.

On Saturday the team planned for our annual Leaders Conference held in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a quite, but busy week to follow an adventurous previous week.

The Student Advisory Team

The Student Advisory Team

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O Beautiful for Patriot Dream That Sees Beyond the Years

Just as there was adventure and uncertainty to discover this beautiful land we call home, there was adventure and uncertainty in my travels to celebrate America.

I spent Monday and Thursday planning around my project and growing my knowledge in Cargill’s Risk Management products.

On Tuesday, June 30, the grain stocks and acreage report from the United States Department of Agriculture were released. The report was bullish and below the average trade estimate. Between the report and wet areas through the eastern corn belt, yellow corn and yellow soybeans had a rather nice rally. If you still had old crop sitting in the bin, it was a perfect time to sell some of that off.

Wednesday I traveled to Gothenburg, Nebraska for Monsanto‘s Asgrow Dekalb Agricultural Product Training (ADAPT). This was a great resource to connect and network with agronomist across Nebraska who work with leading technology and traits across the state of Nebraska. Monsanto’s learning center has 324 acres and a variety of traits showcased.

After the  training, I traveled north west towards Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. What should have taken three hours, took seven. I’m not normally interested in history, however, when it comes to the west and learning about the trails and trials they faced in discovering this territory, I become very interested.

I stopped in North Platte to see the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park. My next stop was in Ogallala visiting the Cowboy Capital of Nebraska and Boot Hill.

Cowboy Capital in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Cowboy Capital in Ogallala, Nebraska.

“Ogallala was a lusty cowtown of the Old West. From 1875 to 1885 it was a wild woolly cowboy capital where gold flowed across the gambling tables, liquor across the bar and often blood across the floor” – Historical Marker, Ogallala Chamber of Commerce.

Due to Ogallala being the Cowboy Capital, Boot Hill was established as a final resting place for many early westerners who helped develop the cowtown.

Boot Hill in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Boot Hill in Ogallala, Nebraska.

My next pit stop was at McConaughy Lake, a beautiful, large lake not too far from Ogallala. During my drive around the lake, I found myself down a gravel road (not uncommon in Nebraska) and was soon taking the road through a man’s cattle pasture. Little did I know at the time, this detour was going to cause some slight problems later.

The next landmark was Chimney Rock National Historic Site. As you can see below, it was a beautiful site.

“Rising 470 feet above the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock stands to the south as the most celebrated of all natural formations along the overland routes to California. Oregon and Utah. Chimney Rock serves as an early landmark for fur traders, trappers and mountain men as they made their way from the Rockies to the Missouri River” – Nebraska State Historical Marker.

Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Cattle pasture north of Chimney Rock showing the incoming storm

Cattle pasture north of Chimney Rock showing the incoming storm

Due to incoming storms, I quickly found myself in Scotts Bluff at Scotts Bluff National Monument. The monument served as a landmark on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. It contains multiple bluffs south of the North Platte River but is named after the most prominent bluff, Scotts Bluff, rising 800 feet above the plains at its highest point. There are five rock formations: Crown Rock, Dome Rock, Eagle Rock, Saddle Rock and Sentinel Rock.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Scotts Bluff National Monument

My plan was to stay in Scotts Bluff, however, due to even more incoming storms, I headed west to my next destination: Cheyenne, Wyoming. On the drive to Cheyenne, my right rear tire quickly became deflated. Somehow – I was able to make it to Cheyenne and with the help of a very genuine customer I had been working with in Nebraska offering guidance and friendly strangers in Cheyenne, we were able to put a spare tire on to get me through the night. The next morning I went to a tire shop to find a piece of bailing wire in my tire! Wonder where that came from? (More than likely that cattle pasture I found myself stumbling through).

One of the famous boots in Cheyenne.

One of the famous large boots in Cheyenne.

I was able to patch my tire and get back on the road. My last pit stop was in Colorado Springs, Colorado to trail ride with a sorority sister, Lauren Kokinda, through Garden of the Gods. I had been through the area last summer driving, however, it was even more beautiful being horse back.

Garden of the Gods

Part of Garden of the Gods

Lauren and myself trail riding through Garden of the Gods

Lauren and myself trail riding through Garden of the Gods

That evening I made it to my final destination, Parker, Colorado to stay with family over the weekend while having fellowship and celebrating this great country of ours. Fireworks, familiar faces and cherished memories filled my heart making me feel at right at home even though being thousands of miles away.

My great aunt's boy, William. He is a very sweet, ornery boy!

My great aunt’s boy, William. He is a very sweet, ornery boy!

The youngest generation of the family.

The youngest generation of the family.

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Learning From Exceptional, Successful Leaders

Packed. Fun. New. Engaging. Future. Challenging. Travel. Leader.

These are all words that easily describe the past week. Monday morning began the 2015 Cargill Intern Forum. Roughly 350 interns from across the country met in Minneapolis, Minnesota for two days as an entire group, then different business units held their own intern forum for various lengths.

Cargill AgHorizons interns from the West Region

Cargill AgHorizons interns from the West Region

On Monday, interns heard from various speakers including:

  • Paul Hillen – Vice President, Corporate Brand, Digital Communications and Marketing
  • Jinping Dong – Senior Scientist; Mark Hosmann – Global Talent Leader, Career Development
  • Kaye Delange – Vice President, Operations Manager, Cargill Salt
  • Roger Bont – Senior Director, Global Food Safety and Quality Customer Relations for Cargill Corporate Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory
  • Leslie Coleman – Global Human Resources Leader
  • Michael Wagner – Commercial Vice President – Food Sector Lead, Cargill Corn Milling North America
  • Ann Burke – Transition Management Office Lead

After the speakers interns had a Diversity and Inclusion training and ended with business unit breakouts to network amongst interns in our own business.

Tuesday began with a competition kick-off where interns were challenged to create a product and a business plan.  In the afternoon we had a leadership panel consisting of:

  • Greg Page – Executive Chairman, Previous President and CEO
  • LeighAnne Baker – Corporate Vice President Human Resources
  • Joe Stone – Corporate Vice President
  • Willard McCloud – Global Director, Inclusion and Diversity

My favorite statement from the leadership panel was from LeighAnne Baker:

“Never stop learning and go where the opportunities lie.”

Group D1 interns after presenting their product.

Group D1 interns after presenting their product.

Our day was completed after hearing from Dave MacLennan, President and CEO of Cargill, Inc. We quickly learned that MacLennan was down to Earth and also known as DMac to employees worldwide. As an intern, it was a indescribable feeling that such leadership was willing and able to spend an hour of his time with interns.

Following his speech, I have the unique opportunity to interview DMac for my Future Leader Project through Agriculture Future of America. He provided very knowledgable insight into his life as a leader for Cargill and gave exceptional advice. My favorite response from DMac was when asked what do you describe as personal success.

“Personal success answers the questions: have I impacted people, have I been a leader that they respected, did I help raise a good family, was I true to my values, do I make quality friendships along the way. Some people work and do pretty much nothing else; and I work hard. I have three friends and the first Friday of each month we have booked for breakfast. We do it about three times out of 12 but it’s on the calendar.”

Before my interview with DMac.

Before my interview with DMac, President and CEO.

The intern forum was completed after Wednesday’s activities with AgHorizon business leaders. The day consisted of a panel, Sales Effectiveness training, round table discussions and a tour of the Lake Office – Cargill’s Global Headquarters.

After activities were concluded on Wednesday, I had yet another unique opportunity to interview Cargill AgHorizon’s National Sales Leader, Kent Krager. Krager shared very insightful thoughts on his career path and professional career along with useful advice for my personal upcoming career endeavors.

“I work every day to provide for my family. It’s not for a paycheck but I work to provide for my family. I want my family to be secure. I’m fortunate enough that my wife works at home full-time with my kids, which I view as a full-time job. It keeps her busy and it allows me to focus on work in my job. I want to be in a position where my kids have the stability and the security to have the same type of education and same type of chances that I had. I was fortunate that my father and my father-in-law have worked really hard to support myself and my wife and that’s really important to me. So that’s a piece of it.”

After my interview with National Sales Leader, Kent Krager.

After my interview with National Sales Leader, Kent Krager.

“I don’t know if I’ll get to a point when I say ‘yup, that’s enough.’ I’m a driven person; I want to make a difference. I really want to make a difference. I don’t necessarily need to create a legacy but I want to make a difference where people look back and say ‘That guy made a difference in my life.’ If I get to a point where people say ‘that guy made a positive influence for me in my development and he allowed me to see bigger opportunities. He allowed me to identify and expand skills I didn’t know I had,” then I think I will be at a point where I’ll be really happy. I think that will be the point when I say I accomplished what I wanted to.”

As this above shows, Krager is very dedicated to his family and faith, along with his profession and Cargill. Spending time with Krager was a great ending to my time at Cargill’s intern forum.

I finished the week with a project work day and an agronomy ProShop in Wood River, Nebraska. Friday afternoon I made it back to Albion for Cargill’s annual golf outing and attended the Albion dirt track races that night. It’s been a relaxing weekend spending time to reflect on this week’s extraordinary experiences. This has definitely been a great week of my summer in living in Albion, Nebraska!

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Learn, Learn, Learn, But Smile

I’ve always believed in seeing as much as you can in the amount of time that you have; therefore I like to take every opportunity to travel as much as I can. This week I had a ride along, training, hub event and project work day, which led into a very busy weekend.

To start the week on Monday, I rode with Mike Kruse, a Personal Marketing Manager (PMM). Cargill’s PMMs work through Cargill AgHorizons Marketing Service (CAMS). Growers can pay a fee per acre of their total operation to receive undisclosed advice from a PMM. The difference between a PMM and a Farm Marketer (FM) is that the FM cannot give advice on what a grower should do with their grain and a PMM can. It was a neat day to see and compare the similarities and differences.

I spent Tuesday with NextField Agronomist, Lean Vanden Berge. NextField is a agronomy service that Cargill provides. The system has a brief understanding of a grower’s field and can provide recommendations from variable rate applications, seed choices, etc. for that specific farm.

AgHorizon interns traveled to Wichita, Kansas with Grain Sales Leader, Ben Lans and FM, Cory Jones Wednesday and Thursday to learn more about Cargill Animal Protein. The hub event began with a dinner after arriving in town with Kate Wheeldon, Associate Food Scientist at the Cargill Innovation Center.

Wednesday consisted of presentations from each business unit and a Cargill Meat Solutions Leadership Panel. Bob Bystrek, University Recruiter for Cargill Animal Protein, gave an overview of Cargill Meat Solutions, a business unit within Cargill Animal Protein. In the afternoon, Ben Lans, Grain Sales Leader for the West Region gave an overview of Cargill’s AgHoizons.

A fun fact Bob shared is that the blood in pork is used for cancer research and the umbilical cord is super for this study. He said that the blood found here was the best blood to use for the research.

During the leadership panel, we heard from Brain Bell: Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Cargill Beef, Fred Sousa: Business Management Lead, Cargill Value Added Means – Food Service, Rick Dalton: Sales Marketing and Purchasing Manager, Cargill Food Distribution and Jonathon Spearman: Operations Lead, Cargill Turkey and Cooked Meats.

All leaders gave exceptional insight ranging from personal success and struggles, professional advice and Cargill internship guidance. One of my favorite comments from the day was from Brian Bell as he said:

“Learn all you can in the job you’re in. Learn, learn, learn and take your time doing so. Smile and have fun at work.”

The day was completed with a tour of Cargill’s Innovation Center. Easily the most favored part of the tour was the Sensory Lab. Cargill employees will test and research various products and need feedback of the products. The Sensory Lab is open to the public. Any employee or public citizen is able to come into the Sensory Lab and serve as a participant of a study. The CIC also has a pilot plant, labs and two kitchens used to serve customers and for various events.

I ended the week with a project work day and then took off for a fun packed weekend. On Friday, sales agronomy intern, Macie Wippel, and myself traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for what I might consider my favorite concert of all time. We were able to hear Randy Rodgers Band and they sure did put on a great performance!

On Saturday, we drove to Yankton, South Dakota to go boating and tubing with a friend. It was safe to say, our skin sure felt the sun after being on the lake for almost 8 hours!

Saturday night we made it to Jackson, Minessota to break up the drive. We took off this morning to make it to Minneapolis in time to visit with friends and tour the Mall of America! We have now registered and are ready for Cargill’s Intern Forum very the next three days!

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BE: A Learner. An Adventurer. A Californian.

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the simple fact that I have completed week 5 of my internship! I have definitely loved every bit of my summer experience and hope the rest of the summer slows down just a bit.

One day this week was spent in Holdrege, Nebraska for training and two days were project focused.

On Monday, grain sales and agronomy sales interns and trainees traveled to Holdrege, Nebraska to learn more about credit, accounting and some agronomy background. The part I found most interesting was the agronomy background. We discussed where N-P-K (or known as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) were originated and the history of these fertilizers. Even though my internship this summer is grain focused compared to my previous seed and chemical internships, it was neat to still refresh my brain on agronomic terms and learn a little in the process.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was able to spend some time with the Origination Specialists in Albion and Ord, Nebraska. Through our time together, I completed some role plays to practice my pitch to the customers I’ll be visiting with along with setting up appointments for myself.

Thursday morning I flew to Sacramento, California for the Agriculture Future of America‘s Student Advisory Team’s June meeting. Thursday evening the team had dinner and spent time with various Californian leadership along with the California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross. Secretary Ross had some great words of wisdom and insight into agriculture in CA. The Student Advisory Team was able to learn more about California’s drought and their plan of action to combat the dry conditions.

“People won’t care what you know until they know that you care,” Secretary Ross passionately expressed to a room full of young agriculturalists.

Friday the team split into two groups to tour different facilities for potential tour stops on the 2016 Crop Science Institute! This year is the first year for the Crop Science Institute and will be mid-July in central Iowa. While in Sacramento, the team visited Syngenta, Bunge, Full Belly Farms, Soil Born Farms, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, California Farm Bureau and Bayer Crop Science.

Bunge Rice Milling Facility

Bunge Rice Milling Facility

Bunge Rice Milling Facility

Bunge Rice Milling Facility

Part of Bunge's warehouse. They turn over their entire warehouse about every two days!

Part of Bunge’s warehouse. They turn over their entire warehouse about every two days!

Soil Born Farms

Soil Born Farms

One of Syngenta's tomato greenhouses

One of Syngenta’s tomato greenhouses

A wheat trial at Syngenta

A wheat trial at Syngenta

Bayer Crop Science Laboratory

Bayer Crop Science Laboratory

Saturday was spent planning for our annual Leaders Conference amongst our tracks. It was a great week of learning in my internship and with the team!

The 2015 Student Advisory Team at dinner.

The 2015 Student Advisory Team at dinner.

This week was just the beginning to a busy rest of my summer full of travel almost each week. Stay tuned to keep up with my gypsy lifestyle over the next month or two!

PS – A shameless plug 🙂 Any collegiate student interested in furthering their career development and soft skills should think about applying to AFA Leaders Conference! It is a competitive application and they are due September 11. The conference is in Kansas City, Missouri from November 5 – 8 with some great things planned! This year’s theme is BE: The Voice. The Catalyst. The Future. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have! AFA Leaders Conference is hands down the most rewarding and self-developing (both professionally and personally) conference I have attended; it’s worth the time to apply!

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Working Hard Leads to Playing Hard With Visiting Family

After a busy weekend traveling back and forth across the state, the week was no different. The last sales training took place along with some ride alongs, and trainings.

Our last sales training was in York, about an hour south and covered options. Options include puts and calls. You can buy or sell a put or a call and they are used as a type of “insurance” to protect the price of the grain a farmer is trying to sell.

I rode along with two FMs and began making some progress on my summer project. There were also two trainings. One in Albion, which covered flex, fob and scalp and one in Wood River covering a plot on the input side of Cargill’s business. Flex, fob and scalp are different options for growers to deliver their grain. For an example, flex is used for a grower who doesn’t necessarily live close to a Cargill elevator. They are able to pay three cents and deliver the grain to another destination at the time of expiration.

The agronomy training was over various hybrids and chemicals Cargill sells to the grower. It was interesting to compare and hear some of the chemicals that are sold by Helena Chemical, the company I interned with last summer.

On Thursday evening, I was greeted by my family! My mom, dad, sister and cousin made the long trek to Albion, Nebraska to visit for three and a half days. It was a great weekend spent attending a concert in Lincoln and tanking down the Calamus River. Our weekend ended with a church service and being welcomed with open arms by the Methodist Church is Albion.

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The More You Know

After a great Memorial Day weekend spent with friends and old customers from last summer’s internship, I began week 3. This week I shadowed a merchant, crop insurance agent and had more ride alongs.

It was interesting to see a merchant and crop insurance’s perspective on the grain markets and compare their jobs to a farm marketer position. Each Cargill location has a merchant. Their job is to oversee grain flow and set the basis each day. The basis determines the cash price. If a grower were to deliver 1,000 bushels of corn, they would take the futures price, generated from the Chicago Board of Trade, minus the location’s basis. If futures are $3.70 and the location’s basis is eight under, the grower would receive $3.62 per bushel.

This upcoming Monday is the deadline to sign up crop insurance. While riding with the crop insurance agent, we had a few appointments that were scheduled to finalize a grower’s hail insurance. This was an interesting part of the business that I have never had any experience in.

The last two days of the week were spent riding along with two farm marketers. So far I have rode with four FMs and each one has their own way to give presentations, set up appointments, interworking relationships, how they follow up with the customer, etc.

This weekend I traveled to Lincoln and Lexington, Nebraska to visit with friends and act as a plus one for a great friend to a wedding! Another great week is in the books!

Wedding in Lexington, Nebraska with a great friend!

Wedding in Lexington, Nebraska with a great friend!

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Digging Deeper

Over the weekend I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for Student Advisory Team of Agriculture Future of America‘s second meeting. It was a successful meeting composed of facilitation training, conference planning and fellowship.

After returning from our meeting, I began my second week of my internship with Cargill which contained sales training, ride-alongs and time for some project focus.

I traveled to Omaha, Nebraska for sales training over value propositions and objections. A room full of farm marketers (FM), origination specialists (OS), sales service representatives (SSR) and leadership met and discussed these topics to compare best practices and grow from each other.

Two days I spent riding with farm marketers observing how they bought grain and ran their appointments. There is a lot to learn by shadowing and simply listening to others. There are different sales techniques used for different farmers, operations, farm marketers, etc.

While venturing to Ord, NE on Thursday, I had the opportunity to learn from an SSR. We looked into the various programs that Cargill utilizes to run our business. A majority of our time was spent reviewing an online program known as, CargillAg. The project I will be focusing on this summer will be around this program.

On Friday I met with my supervisor, Kevin, to discuss goals, objectives and the scope of my project. I will be meeting with 30-35 customers to present CargillAg and will sign up 3-5 customers on E-signature, which gives customers the ability to sign their contracts online. I was excited to dig a little deeper into what my project is going to entail.

It was a great week revolved around learning and planning. It has definitely made me more excited for the rest of the summer!

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Another Summer, Another Adventure

It has been a quick minute since I have posted to my blog. A quick minute defined as in almost a year.

Through this time, I have completed my junior year at the Ohio State University. It was yet another successful and busy year chalked up. My travels included:

  • Block and Bridle National Convention in Lubbock, TX
  • My third AFA Leaders Conference in Kansas City, MO
  • National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow’s Professional Development Conference in Orlando, FL
  • Interning for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association at the Cattlemen’s Industry Convention in San Antonio, TX
  • Sigma Alpha and Alpha Gamma Rho Leadership Seminar in Fort Worth, TX
  • Two meetings in Kansas City, MO for the Student Advisory Team of Agriculture Future of America
  • Along with various trips for fun to Florida over spring break and to Kentucky to visit with friends

A busy, yet fun filled junior year. Now, I have moved to Albion, Nebraska to be a Farm Marketer Intern for Cargill. Albion is a town of 1,600 with no stop lights – slightly different from the 15,000 I’m used to back home. However, a small, yet welcoming community. I will again, like last summer, be blogging weekly for internship credit for my course work this summer.

The first week of my internship included sales training, on-boarding and application training. Each Monday in May, the sales team will be having a sales training in various parts of Nebraska. I traveled to Holdrege, NE and learned about some of Cargill’s marketing solutions and best practices executed by farm marketers in the region. I spent a day in Ord, NE learning the different web based applications that are used in the office. I also learned how to manage CargillAg.com which is a tool Cargill created for growers to view their contracts and potentially sign their contracts online as well through ESignature.

My main project for the summer will be working with 30-40 growers in educating them on Cargill Ag and also getting a handful familiar with and signed up on ESignature. Through this process I will learn more about Cargill’s solutions and what a grower expects of a farm marketer.

Throughout the summer I will also be traveling once a month with the Student Advisory Team of AFA meeting with our partners and planning for our annual Leaders Conference in November hosted in Kansas City.

It’s looking to be a summer full of learning, experiences and some fun will be had along the way. Stay tuned to hear more about my second summer in the Good Life state!

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Unfortunately, All Good Things Come to an End

This past week I gave my final presentation and ended my internship with Helena Chemical Company. I’m not sure if there’s one word that I can use to describe my experience as a whole, but if I could create a word it would describe exhilarating, stressful, incredible, insightful and too short.

When I left in late May for Lincoln, Nebraska, I was nervous and enthused at the same time. Moving almost 13 hours from the place I had lived all of my life to a place where I knew no one, was only slightly tapping on my nervous system. However, for those of you who know my personality, I’m always ready for an adventure or a challenge!

The things I learned from not only my internship but throughout my travels this summer are simply intangible and extraordinary. I learned more about myself than I thought I would ad made life long friendships that I know I can rely on.

As I left Ohio, I knew I wanted to try out new surroundings and a new place, but I didn’t plan on falling in love with wherever I went. It’s safe to say that this summer has easily been my favorite and I am not looking forward to leaving “The Good Life.”

As the tale goes, all good things come to an end, but this end came too quickly. I’m already planning when I will be returning to Nebraska and I can tell you my next visit for sure will not be the last. Until next time Nebraska, I’ll be seeing you soon.

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I officially have more Cornhusker gear than Ohio State gear!

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This past week I have spend time working on my project and finishing details to completing my final presentation. As I write, I find it so hard to believe that this amazing opportunity is soon coming to an end. I will be heading west this coming week to York, NE to meet with and listen to the other interns in the West Central Division as we talk about our internships. Ready or not, it’s almost over!

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Constantly Waiting

One of the struggles that I have consistently encountered this summer has been constantly waiting. My project was to create a Sharefile account that will be shared between our sales reps in my office to their customers at their respective co-ops and independents. However, when working for a larger corporate company, some things don’t always go as quickly.

I have realized that when you think something will take a day or two turn around, that it actually takes a week. I have struggled trying to go through different hula-hoops to get everything where I need it to be. I have finally made some larger leaps in the past week and have become pretty excited at how far I have came.

Something exciting I did this past week was travel a couple hours west to Burwell, NE. Burwell is known for Nebraska’s biggest rodeo.

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Over the whole weekend I went to the rodeo, a lake and went tanking again! We were starting to get into the sand hill areas and you could definitely tell at the lake.

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It was beautiful how everything was just sand. It was almost like we were at the beach! It was a great week and one of my favorite weekends of the summer. Now I begin gearing up for the end of my internship. Where did the time go!?

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Flight delays: Friend or Enemy?

As I mentioned in my last post, I had some flight problems getting back to Nebraska. During this time while stuck in the airport, I was able to catch up on some sleep during a four hour layover and also get some paperwork done while waiting for a flight and during the flight. This time was beneficial and really did come into good use to get caught up on my fast paced life.

I spent the last two days this week looking at some new product and tissue sampling for a newer customer.

Over the weekend I experienced something called “tanking.” When I moved to Nebraska at the beginning of this summer, I was asked if I had ever been tanking and replied, “what’s that?” I was told that you take a metal cattle water tank and float down a crick. I then looked at my friend and said, “you do what?!” I was in shock that they floated down a crick in a cattle tank.

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This was our tank that we took down a four mile stretch of the crick. It was a great experience that I would LOVE to bring back to Ohio. It was a nice relaxing afternoon and of course, gained some very gorgeous tan lines!

After our tanking experience, we ended the night with another concert. I think it’s safe to say I’m turning into a concert junkie, however, I’m perfectly okay with that!

 

 

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Your Hometown Will Always Be There

This week started by traveling back to Lincoln from Colorado. I stopped to visit some of customers in Western Nebraska on the way back to break up my drive.

I also spent time this week looking at some fields with new product and trouble shooting problems in a couple fields.

I spent a day at the University of Nebraska’s Weed Training. It was very beneficial to see what kind of research UNL has found. Nebraska’s main weeds are different from Ohio’s main weeds which made it very interesting to compare the differences and learn about new weeds.

I left Nebraska Friday afternoon and flew back to Ohio for a couple of days. I went a concert in Northwest Ohio known as Country Concert (imagine that, me going to another concert?). It was a great time being able able to see some friends from school and catch up on each others’ summers.

I went back to Fayette County to help my sister move in to her senior fair. I was there for three days and helped fit our cattle for show day on Tuesday and then headed back to Nebraska. I was supposed to leave Columbus at 9:00pm on Tuesday evening and didn’t make it to Lincoln until 5:00pm on Wednesday after two cancelled flights and some delays. It was slightly irritating!

It was a great trip home. As they always say, you can travel anywhere you want, but your hometown will always be there for you to return to!

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19 years later…

This week was a shorter work week as we all celebrate Independence Day. I started the week off by resampling a field of corn. Somehow, our extractor results came back from the first sampling and seemed to be swapped from the treated and untreated. The farmer and dealer decided to resample the field to make sure we had made a mistake.

I spent some time meeting with one of my sales reps to go over a couple key products that were needing applied. Then I started my journey West.

On Wednesday, I spent the day visiting some customers and looking at some fields across Western Nebraska as my ultimate end journey was to Parker, Colorado. Since the day I was born (maybe even when I was still in the womb), I have wanted to travel West and visit the family I have in Colorado. There’s just something about places I’ve never been to and visiting family that just simply intrigues curious soul.

I arrived Wednesday night in Parker and stayed until Monday morning celebrating the Fourth with family. I spent some time traveling up to Pikes Peak, learning how to shot a bow and arrow, setting off fireworks, exploring Colorado and obviously a small shopping trip with the girls.

It was a great weekend to be able to spend time with family. I’m already thinking about when I will make my next trip West back to Colorado!

Bailing hay At the top of Pikes Peak Cousin picture!

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Midterm?! You mean beginning?

It is hard to believe that this past week was my Midterm Review. I met with the Sales Manager of the West Central Division and a Wholesale Branch Manager for an interview. Over the duration of our interview, we discussed what I have been doing and how things have been going. I obviously couldn’t answer any other way than simply amazing.

I spent a couple of days tissue samples some fields as well. I have started to get a little smarter and bring flags along with me to identify the split between treated and untreated side by side fields to make my next trip back easier!

I also spent some time traveling to Manhattan, Kansas for a rather large concert. This four day event is located outside with camp grounds while country artists start mid day and play all afternoon into the evening. I traveled south with some interns from Dekalb, Asgrow and Channel and had a blast hearing about their summer experiences thus far.

How on Earth I am already half way through my internship is beyond me! May the next half pass slower than the first half!

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Voicemails and Irrigation adventures

This past week I spent some time with my sales reps visiting customers, a day calling customers myself, some time learning our accounting system and two days on my own with customers.

I’m still meeting more and more of the customers that our branch works with. It is great to get that personal connection and compare and contrast each co-op and independent dealers.

A part of my job is finding any plots or side by sides that have some of our product on them to look at for comparison. The best way to do that is to contact our customers so they can contact their customers. While working in the wholesale business, there’s a middle man which makes it slightly more difficult to accomplish this task in a timely manor.

I spend time calling our customers that I will be working with so that they can turn around and spend time calling their own customers. As you may have seen me mention before, Nebraska has had a spring for the record with unusual tornado and heavy rains. This past week was more dry making it harder to reach customers as they were running around trying to make sure every sprayer they owned was running and in a field getting work done.

Two other tasks I did this week include tissue sampling and laying irrigation pipe. When I tissue sample fields in corn, I look for the most recently fully developed leave that has a collar. I collect 15+ leaves and put them in a bag. For soybeans I look for the most recently fully developed trifoliate and collect 25+. They are then shipped off to the lab and looked at in multiple tests concerning their nutrient make up along with other things.

I also helped a farmer lay irrigation pipe.

The irrigation pipe on the trailer.

To do so, you connect the first pipe to a pipe that connects to the pump. Then continue putting pipe together until you reach the end of your field. I was laying gravity irrigation pipe.

Lining two pieces together

A farm hand pushing the pipe into the previous pipe.

The water gets pushed through the pipe from the pump and then with high pressure, comes out small holes down the pipe laid at the edge of the field. The reason it is called gravity irrigation is because the water will flow from one side to the other side of the field as long as there is even just a half inch slope. I was easily amazed! Back home there is no irrigation at all. It was great to compare the differences and learn a new way.

It was a great week, once again and the summer is continuing to fly by!

Loving my Nebraska life!

 

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It’s All About the Little Things

Another week has come and gone. The lists keep adding up and the days are getting longer. Both of these things lead to one great answer: I’m staying busy learning!

I spent a day my sales rep from Northeast Nebraska, a day with my branch manager, a day meeting my third sales rep in Western Nebraska, a day taking tissue samples and a day learning about custom application.

Throughout each week of my internship there are many things to be done other than blogging about my great experience. Each week we submit three documents to corporate: Picture of the Week, Weekly Activity Report and Weekly Challenge.

Picture of the Week gives the interns a chance to explore different products and different plots/side by sides. The purpose of this submission is for the interns to create something tangible and valuable for the company. Many of the flyers and advertisements that Helena use include pictures that interns have taken. It gives us an opportunity to leave something useful behind even after our summer is over.

A previous POW that I submitted

Weekly Activity Reports are just that, a report over what your activities have included for the week. WARs also include questions such as: what were your struggles, what did you learn, what do you need from us, etc.

Weekly Challenges are tasks that are assigned to us each week. This past week’s challenge was covering custom application. We were required to ride with a Custom Applicator for an hour, determined the technology involved in custom application and complete a short write up over the assets, technology and people involved in custom application.

Besides these three weekly tasks, there are many more tasks that are added to my to-do list each week. I complete a weekly newsletter that I send to my sales reps customers each Friday morning. I have been asked to complete newsletters, post cards, flyers and much more for individual companies and independents each week as well.

There’s always something to add to my list making each day longer, however, I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for anything! These little things keep me busy and I am loving it! Now, time to conquer my to – do list for this evening 🙂 Until next time!

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Time to get the full nine yard welcome, Nebraskan style

What is a welcome without an adrenaline rush and adventure? The answer is simple: boring.

This week was spent visiting with my sales rep and his dealers, attending an intern training with FMC and visiting one of our retail branches in Centralia, Kansas. It was another week of “What were their names again?” but a great week learning more connections through Helena.

So where does this adrenaline rush and adventure come in? Well, Nebraska isn’t too terribly far from tornado alley and storms are quite common. Tuesday afternoon we were visiting one of the Co-Ops that I will be dealing with. The secretary told us that the Red Cross had already been called in, there was 4inch hail coming and they were calling for tornados. Well, my sales rep and I looked at the radar and the forecast and it didn’t look too terribly bad. It was about 4:00pm CST and we were visiting another Co-Op after just digging up some corn plants for comparison and tissue sampling. We stood outside and watched part of the storm come together.

Outside of the shop watching the two fronts come together. One of the most cool and beautiful things I have watched!

Outside of the shop watching the two fronts come together. One of the most cool and beautiful things I have watched!

In a matter of about 0 to 60 seconds the wind started blowing my hair away. We decided to leave the Co-Op as that probably wasn’t the best place to be if something was to happen. We started headed down the road and then were hit by straight line winds and a hail storm.

Straight line winds stirring up dust in the fields

Straight line winds stirring up dust in the fields

In the end, my sales rep will probably have to get a new hood from the golf ball size hail damage. During this first storm we were in Dodge, Nebraska. I headed home to Lincoln and was hit by two different cells later in the evening.

By the end of the week I had received a total of seven calls from friends and family back home to check up that I was alright. What happened was out of our control, however, it was a great experience and to say the least I was thrilled.

The downfall to such a thrilling experience is the damage that was done by the storms.

“Damage was so widespread that some insurance companies were rating the storm as catastrophic. Woodhouse dealerships in Blair and Missouri Valley sustained hail damage to $162 million in inventory.” – Omaha.com

Some crops will have to be filed with insurance and some will have to be replanted. Below you will find pictures from the damage that was done across Nebraska (photos from Omaha.com and Crop Watch – UNL). I’m looking forward to continue helping farmers overcome their damage during this upcoming week.

As you can see, it was an exciting second week in Nebraska and I would say I experienced a great Nebraska welcome!

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What was your name again?

This past week was my first week working at my location and my second week of my internship. It is easy to say that it’s going to be a great summer and I’m excited to see what all is in store.

I spent my first week getting to know the staff at my branch, my branch manager and one of my sales representatives (my second sales representative was lucky enough to be spending a week with his family in Disney World, I was only slightly jealous). I was able to meet some of our customers that I will be working with this summer and the common question after every visit was: “What was their name again?” Being horrible with names makes it slightly difficult while meeting countless people in a short amount of time.

I spent Friday traveling to Hiawatha, Kansas to take tissue samples. It was my first experience taking samples and I would say it went pretty well. After I took the samples I spent some time talking to the grower about the products he used and the comparisons.

Easy enough to say that week one was great and I’m already looking forward to week two!

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Corn, irrigation, corn, flat land, more corn

In early fall of 2013 I took some time to explore what I wanted to get out of the next few years of college. I planned out the classes that I had left to take and evaluated my extracurricular involvement. Through my required curriculum, I have to partake in two internships as well. I have traveled quite a bit and have really enjoyed seeing the rest of the world.

After giving some thought to what I wanted out of my internship experiences, I decided I wanted to explore the west central area of the United States. In October, I accepted an internship with Helena Chemical Company as a Sales and Marketing Intern working out of the wholesale branch location in Fremont, Nebraska.

Prior to my internship, I had never been west of Illinois (excluding a weekend flight to California for my sorority’s national convention). As you may have noticed, exploration and the unknown excite me and spark my interest. I could NOT wait to move west!

I have now officially moved to Lincoln, NE, an hour away from my location. I will be working for Sales Representatives that have territory in the eastern half of NE, a south east part of South Dakota and a north east part of Kansas.

This past week, the West Central and Midwest Division interns traveled to Des Moines, Iowa for training with Product Managers, Division Managers and other very important staff throughout the Northern Business Unit. We arrived on Monday for an introduction to a few staff members and to our iPads.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in a classroom setting learning about Helena products and agronomy. Following this, we spent Thursday going out to the fields to put everything together we had learned and to visit the retail branch in Adair, IA.

 

Helena interns at Prairie Medows

Friday we ended with an inspirational presentation from a Division Manager that really had all of the interns on their toes and ready for a great summer. My first week was a great learning experience and was a great kick start to the summer. Easy to say, I’m stoked for my internship in Nebraska and to be learning more about myself, Nebraska and Helena. Let it begin!

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I’m Ready to Fuel the Future!

I have just began to recover from traveling to San Diego, California and I will be traveling again this week! I have the great opportunity to be joining about 30 other students from The Ohio State University to travel west to Kansas City, Missouri for Agriculture Future of America’s Leaders Conference, Thursday, November 7 through Sunday, November 10, and I could not be more excited!

AFA's logo

AFA’s logo

Last year as a first year student, I was sponsored to attend the conference by Syngenta. Making the decision to attend the 2012 Leader’s Conference was one of the best decisions I’ve made during my college career so far.

AFA has four tracks that match where you currently are at a professional stand point in your career. I joined almost 500 other students from across the country in track 1 with three great Student Advisory Team members who facilitated our track, Shannon Bellis, Nathan Johnston and Jackson Troxel.

Track 1 is designed for freshmen and focuses on assessment and the development of fundamental skills crucial for success in college and career. Delegates complete personal assessment tools and receive training in resume development, time management, goal setting and personal skill development while assessing the opportunities available to them within their chosen career path.”

Myself with Meghan Bennett and Chris Kutz at the 2012 Leaders Conference.

Myself with Meghan Bennett and Chris Kutz at the 2012 Leaders Conference.

This year I will be participating in track 2 and have also been chosen as a 40 Chances Fellow made possible by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Track 2 is designed for sophomore/juniors and focuses on communication skills and preparing for employment. Dressing for success, first impressions, critical thinking, team leadership roles and personal ethics are addressed as a part of this program.”

I’m very excited to be growing my communication skills and to be strengthening myself professionally.

I also am very thankful to be supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The foundation has chosen 40 students that participated in track 1 last year and will sponsor the 40 students for the next three years along with personalized coaching with AFA and an international experience.

I am anxious to be in Kansas City with my fellow colleagues from across the country and to fuel the future!

This year's theme for Leaders Conference.

This year’s theme for Leaders Conference.

I also highly suggest you take a read of Howard G. Buffet and Howard W. Buffett’s newly released book, 40 Chances, as they continue to combat world hunger and share their experiences.

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#RancherRelief

It’s amazing how a community can come together during hard times. On October 4, South Dakota was hit with a unexpected blizzard (read my previous blog to see the details).

Now, organizations and businesses, like Prairie Berry Winery, Dairy Queen, Delta Theta Sigma and many more, are teaming up to help these ranchers recover from such a devastating event.

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Tweets showing support for SD Ranchers.

Tweets showing support for SD Ranchers.

In situations like these, every penny counts. However, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association have partnered with Black Hills Area Community Foundation to raise funds and help these ranchers. So far, there has been approximately $400,000 raised and Ag Chat Foundation has set a goal of raising $500,000.

On October 21, Ag Chat Foundation and Tyson teamed up to raise awareness on twitter and help those affected by the blizzard. Tyson agreed to donate $10 for every tweet that used the hash tag #RancherRelief for up to $50,000. According to the Western Producer, in only a few hours twitter users were exceeding their limits and tweeted more than 5,000 tweets with #RancherRelief resulting in $50,000 donated to the cause.

Tweets from Ag Chat and Tyson's #RancherRelief efforts.

Tweets from Ag Chat and Tyson’s #RancherRelief efforts.

According to Tri-State Livestock News, November 4 – 10, Dairy Queen restaurants across South Dakota will be joining forces and hosting the DQ Relief for Ranchers Week. Between 34 participating DQs, at least $1 from every burger sold will go to the Rancher Relief Fund. Their goal is to sell 25,000 burgers and raise at least $25,000.

There are many efforts nationwide that are supporting and fundraising for SD Ranchers. It will be in a matter of no time before the $500,000 goal is reached and exceeded. With this money, more cattle will be spread across the state, but it will continue to take time to heal from what has been considered one of the worst deficits in South Dakota’s agriculture history.

If you would like to contribute to this cause and support South Dakota Ranchers please do so through Black Hills.

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Pumpkin Carving, hashtag?

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Student Council puts on an annual pumpkin carving contest. Any club or individual within the college is highly encouraged to participate and carve one or more pumpkins. This year we used the hash tag #CFAEScarve to promote our event on twitter to fellow students throughout the college.

There was almost 20 individuals and teams that entered in the contest. The team I served as a cheer leader for was Sigma Alpha. Our team was prepared and had a few drawings we were more than ready to carve.

Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority before the carving contest.

Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority before the carving contest.

This year Valley Crest sponsored the pumpkins. They also assisted in the prizes as the top three in the individual and group categories were recognized. Valley Crest took the both winners out to lunch the following day to connect and network with the students.

Students throughout the college used the hashtag to not only promote the event but to live tweet as well.

Tweets from the search of #CFAEScarve

Tweets from the search of #CFAEScarve

Creating specific hashtags for events is a great tool utilized in many events throughout our college. Hashtags have many benefits such as:

  • promoting your event to others
  • creating a catchy phrase/acronym to catch the public’s eye
  • a universal form of social media usage
  • a way to see what all is going on live
  • a way to search to see what happened if you missed an event

Our college has had great success using hashtags and our pumpkin carving was greatly enjoyed by faculty and students within the college.

Even though Sigma Alpha did not win, we sure did have a fun time at the #CFAEScarve.

Sigma Alpha's finished pumpkins.

Sigma Alpha’s finished pumpkins.

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Cross Country She Went

During my first semester at The Ohio State University, I made the decision to rush Sigma Alpha. Sigma Alpha was established in 1978 at Ohio State, making us the Alpha Chapter. After I was activated, I knew that joining Sigma Alpha would be one of the best decisions I made in my collegiate career.

This fall is my second semester of being an active member and I was chosen to represent our chapter at National Convention as the delegate. Our annual convention was held in San Diego, California from October 17-19. I have never traveled past Illinois so I was very excited to go cross country.

This past week was very busy but I knew that it was all going to be worth it. I work in my College’s Career Services Office and we hold Career Expos for students. It just so happened that our expo for this semester fell this past Thursday, October 17. In the last few years we have had an increase in the number of companies attending so last spring we decided to hold the expo this fall at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. We stopped registration after we hit 90 companies and I was extremely anxious for one of the largest expos we have had in years.

The hallway in the 4-H Center the night before expo.

The hallway in the 4-H Center the night before expo.

It was a little stressful, but expo was a huge success. The companies loved the new site and students did as well. After expo ended at 3:00p we tore down and I hurried home to grab my suitcase and make my flight to California.

After delays and running through the Columbus and Dallas airports, my little, Delanie Wiseman, and myself finally made it to our hotel in San Diego and were ready to take on the weekend!

Delanie and I waiting to board our plane in Columbus.

Delanie and I waiting to board our plane in Columbus.

There were many great speakers at this year’s convention, but one stood out above the rest. After our breakfast and the career fair, we went to lunch and heard from Sarah Bedgar Wilson.

Sarah Bedgar Wilson is a fifth – generation farmer with roots on a diversified dairy, livestock and crop farm in Maryland. She graduated from the North Dakota State Animal Science Graduate Program in 2002. Since then Sarah has been active in the North Dakota Farm Bureau, co-founding the Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter at NDSU and serves as the Program Coordinator for the NDFB Young Farmers and Ranchers. Sarah and her husband, Jeremy, prioritize their lives by the three F’s: Faith, Family and Farming, in that order.

Sarah Bedgar Wilson

Sarah Bedgar Wilson

Sarah explained how to follow the 10 E’s to succeed in agriculture.

Her second E was explore. This was one of my favorites as I have a new found love for exploring and traveling. Sarah talked about her travels and how important it is to learn about the bigger picture, the world around us.

Another E that stood out to me was Pursue Excellence. Sarah said she was going to write Achieve Excellence and then she decided pursue was a better fit. She went on to explain how we’re not always going to achieve, we’re going to fail. But, in those failures, is where you become stronger and wiser. Sarah sure did make the room giggle as she said, “I want you to fail! You’ve probably never heard a speaker tell you that before have you?” She did have a great point.

The two E’s that stood out to me the most were Embrace and Enjoy. Sometimes we need to embrace where we are in life. We have plenty of struggles, but that’s life. The struggles make us stronger at the end of the day and we need to enjoy the chapter of life we’re in. Don’t run through life, enjoy it!

Sarah was a phenomenal speaker and one that I will remember. She opened up her life story to the audience and truly connected with the room. She was a great inspiration and I felt I could take on the world after listening to her. After hearing her story, I thought to myself, if she can do it, I can do it. I should have no excuse.

Agriculture needs more people like Sarah, who put their blood, sweat and tears into their faith, family and farming.

I had a great weekend listening to speakers like Sarah and interacting with sisters from across the country. I am thankful for Sigma Alpha and the opportunities it has given me and where it will lead me. On my way home, I couldn’t help but reflect and think how excited I am for our generation of agriculturalists and where the industry is headed.

Delanie and I on the beach.

Delanie and I on the beach.

A shot from our plane ride home.

A shot from our plane ride home.

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Promoting Agriculture One Chat at a Time

Hash tags, retweet, tweet chat? These are some things that are becoming very popular in the agriculture industry week by week.

The Ag Chat Foundation is a prime example of how companies can use social media, like twitter, to publicize and promote themselves and their mission. The Ag Chat Foundation acts as a farmer-led effort to empower a connected community of advocates and holds a tweet chat every Tuesday, 8-10p. The Foundation has two different tweet chats: AgChat and FoodChat.

The AgChat Foundation logo.

The AgChat Foundation logo.

AgChat is related to conversation in the business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber.

FoodChat is for people interested in food, those who produce it, people who need it and the nutrition involved. FoodChat is only held on the third Tuesday of each month.

This past week I participated in FoodChat and can definitely say that my knowledge of the food industry was broadened. From hearing about lutefisk, pig ear and escargot, my taste buds were sure being tested!

Some of my tweets during #foodchat

Some of my tweets during #foodchat

The subject was food immigration from/to US/Canada and we discussed foreign cuisines. My favorite part of the tweet chat was simply seeing where all the other tweets have traveled to and from and what they have ate there. One tweeter had lamb brain in France and another tweeter questioned her about any scrapie concerns. Questions that were asked like this one give you an education on the regulations and concerns in the food industry across the world.

Week by week, the numbers seem to increase in participation in the tweet chats. These types of dialogues can help us, agriculturalists, reach across the world to consumers like we never have before. In multiple 140 character blurbs, we can promote our industry for two hours and help answer questions that our consumers may have. Make sure to follow the Ag Chat Foundation, Ag Chat and Food Chat and retweet their reminders for the weekly tweet chats. As always, use the hash tag #agchat or #foodchat when promoting the industry. Hope you can join the next #agchat conversation Tuesday 8-10p!

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South Dakota Takes a Chilly Hit

This past Friday, October 4, South Dakota was hit with a blizzard. A blizzard the farmers there are saying they have never seen before.

“I have never heard of anything like it and none of the ranchers I have talked to can remember anything like it” -Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

It’s easy to say that South Dakota was not ready for four feet of snow this past weekend. Snow drifts took cattle up to five miles away from their ranch and stuck some of them in a chilly situation.

Calf frozen to death.

Just one of many calves that did not make it.

According to Big 81 Radio, “The cost to what is being called one of the worst blizzards in South Dakota’s history will reach into the multi-millions.”

SD ranchers certainly weren’t ready for this hit and neither were their cattle. Ranchers tend to graze their cattle on different types of pasture depending on the time of the year providing the animals more coverings during harsh weather to help prevent loss of their total head. Cattle also grow a denser coat in preparation for winter time to face temperatures like these. Being early in the season, neither of these things had taken place yet.

Some ranchers are worried about their insurance policies and what the government will be able to do for them with the current shut down.

“A lot of the government agencies that we would normally be turning to for those answers are furloughed. So there’s this sort of timing issue that’s enhancing the frustration out there in cattle country” – Jodie Anderson, executive director of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

Some ranchers are reporting that 20 to 50 percent of their herds had been killed by this blizzard. Christine believed that more than 5 percent of the roughly 1.5 million cattle in Western South Dakota had been killed.

“It’s much higher than that,” she said. “But I’m not sure where that number is going to land.”

Ranchers discovering their cattle.

Ranchers discovering their cattle.

Calf found on the side of the road.

Calf found on the side of the road.

David Uhrig, a rancher in Folsom, said he estimated about 25 percent of his herd had been killed, which meant far fewer calves this spring.

“We are looking at years of rebuilding to get back to what we lost,” Uhrig said.

My heart goes out to all the ranchers and those affected by this blizzard. Praying for no more weather surprises! You can read more at Rapid City Journal or Big81 Ranch Radio KBHB.

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Cotton candy, carmel apples and advocating

Even though my favorite season happens to be fall, summer always comes in a close second. Every college student enjoys summer and the break from classes. I enjoy the county fairs, festivals and food. The last county fair of the year, Fairfield County, begins this week, I wish all of the exhibitors good luck!

Parade in Jeffersonville, OH in 2010.

Parade in Jeffersonville, OH in 2010.

Above is a picture from my reign as the Fayette County Beef Queen in 2010. I was riding in the 4th of July parade in Jeffersonville, OH. These type of events are what I believe help our industry continue to reach out to youth and consumers.

The Country Farm Fest in Payson, UT does an exceptional job holding an educational festival that is fun for everyone. Although I’ve never attended, I’ve heard from family out west how great the Farm Fest actually is.

Attendee to the Country Farm Fest bottle feeding a baby calf.

Attendee to the Country Farm Fest bottle feeding a baby calf.

Young girl sheering a sheep at the Country Farm Fest.

Young girl sheering a sheep at the Country Farm Fest.

One of their new elements is the “Ready, Set, Grow!” contest.

This contest gets everyone involved and gives the community a chance to try growing something new.

Fairs and festivals are the most efficient locations to reach out to youth and consumers and to showcase how important agriculture is. These events allow the general public to see what we as agriculturalists do on a daily basis and then provides them an opportunity to do it themselves. Farm City Day is another example that connects to youth while showcasing agriculture.

“Kids could climb on tractors, milk a fake cow and pet the real thing, along with other farm animals from pigs to goats. There were bounce houses, exhibits, food booths and a fishing hole, and the WNC Air Museum’s ornithopter gave rides. A sheep herding demonstration earned some giggles from families watching from the petting zoo arena” said Blue Ridge Now.

When next summer rolls around, I challenge you to think about what you do to promote your industry at these type of events. Plus, while going to fairs and festivals you get to enjoy some good treats as well. We all need to appease our sweet tooth every now and then!

Carmel apples at the Ohio State Fair.

Carmel apples at the Ohio State Fair.

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Women Exploring Agricultural Opportunities

This past Monday, November 30, the women of Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Reynoldsburg to tour the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

ODA welcoming SIgma Alpha

We began the tour by hearing some insightful words from not only our tour guide but a past Sigma Alpha Advisor, Dr. Sereana Dresbach, Deputy Director at ODA. She started by reminding the chapter of how big of an industry agriculture is within Ohio itself. With 1 in 7 jobs being related to agriculture and being a $105 billion industry,  agriculture easily slides to the biggest and strongest industry in Ohio.

The part of the tour that was most interesting to myself was the Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab. As defined on ODA’s website, “The ADDL is a full-service, all species animal disease diagnostic facility which provides diagnostic expertise to veterinarians for food animals, horses, small animals, and exotic species. The diagnostic lab also provides increasing support to Ohio’s on-farm food safety programs, and is the only veterinary diagnostic lab in Ohio that is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics.”

We were able to look inside the laboratory at the lab tables which can hold up to 10,000 pounds. Dr. Dresbach was explaining the diversity at the department as she mentioned they have held rhinos and giraffes before.

Dr. Dreshbach speaking to the sorority.

At the end of the tour, we had small talk over pizza. Janelle Mead, Sigma Alpha alumni and Deputy Director, joined us for conversation. It was a great experience to be able to see the vast opportunities that ODA has to offer. Dr. Dresbach continued to remind the chapter throughout the evening, “no matter what your major is, agriculture has a spot for you.” I could not agree with her more. Agriculture is a wide industry and needs someone from every aspect to continue our strength.

Overall, myself along with the women of Sigma Alpha, had a great time learning about Ohio’s agriculture and the importance of continuing the strength in our industry.

The Alpha Chapter at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Myself with an 18 foot stalk of corn from Farm Science Review showcased in ODA.

Myself with an 18 foot stalk of corn from Farm Science Review showcased in ODA.

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Where is your heart this fall?

This is my second harvest season being away from home, back in Washington Court House, and it is no easier than the first! Harvest has always been a great time of the year in my family’s household as it brings us closer together and has been a great teaching aspect in my life.

Growing up on the farm has given me plenty of space to explore and learn all of the great opportunities through agriculture. This past spring I planted my first field of corn. I’ll be the first to admit that it may not have the straightest rows, but it sure was a memorable experience with my cousin!

View of our back yard through our kitchen window.

View of our back yard through our kitchen window.

After I began to understand what agriculture was as a youngster, I realized how much of a necessity our industry actually is.

“By 2050, the global population will surpass 9 billion people, and demand for agricultural products is expected to double” – World Economic Forum.

Comments like these make me ecstatic about my future as an agriculturalist. Knowing that one of my fellow buckeyes and/or myself may stumble upon the next big enhancement to help boost production gives me cold chills.

Technology is a huge aspect that will lend a hand in producing more with less.  Dr. Lowell Catlett explains this below.

As technology continues to improve the industry each year, the current question among producers is “what are your yields carving out to be?” According to agriculture.com, “The Southern states and the southern portion of the Corn Belt seem to report very large yields. Yield reports from the hardest-hit drought areas are scarce but not causing concern.”

This year’s crop is shaping out to be a good year. I certainly can’t wait for a chance to be at home with family and hopefully help harvest my field of corn!

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