MACA Young Leaders Share Views on Industry, Public
For the past six years now, one of the highlights of the first day of the annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting has been the introduction of the recipients of organization’s Young Leader Scholarship program. Choosing one student from each of the nation’s 13 land grant universities, the Young Leader program provides some financial assistance to students looking to pursue a career in agriculture. They are also invited to the annual meeting share their thoughts on the agricultural industry and their internships with suppliers to the marketplace.
At this year’s annual meeting in Des Moines, IA, recent internships and the life lessons taught were a common theme. In fact, according to Keely Acheson of Iowa State University, her summer internship at John Deere in Moline, IL, gave her a firm “global perspective” on how agriculture functions around the world. Paige Reetz of Michigan State University had a similar experience when she helped sell new hybrids seeds from Mycogen (now part of Corteva) to top dairy farmers this past summer.
Of course, some of the students found themselves in the middle of some agricultural current events as part of their jobs, as Allison Stiens of the University of Missouri explained. “As part of my internship at Corteva, I had to deal with some negative attitudes from ag retailers and farmers regarding all of the industry mergers going on,” said Stiens. “But I was happy to talk with all of them about how all these mergers would probably lead to more innovations in agriculture that would be a benefit to everyone in the business.”
A few other students also mentioned agricultural innovations in their comments to MACA attendees. Indeed, according to Stephen Riskedal from the University of Illinois, he spent a good part of his summer internship with ag retailer GROWMARK learning about crop protection product usage and precision agriculture practices. “I did a lot of scouting using these tools and I really liked putting these two things together to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Riskedal.
Lauren Tolle of Purdue University told attendees she believes the industry still can do more in the area of herbicide-resistant weeds. “A big agricultural challenge is to better understand how weeds become resistant,” said Tolle. “But we can still make improvements to how application work is done on this and offer education to growers on using better management practices to help control it.”
Speaking of reaching out more, several students also talked about their efforts to spread the good news of agriculture beyond just the industry itself. According to Monica Pennewitt of The Ohio State University, she spends a lot of her time telling people outside agriculture what the industry has done, and will do, for the world. “I tell them about how agriculture will help feed a global population expected to hit nine billion people by 2050,” said Pennewitt. “And I remind them that plants can get sick, just like people do, and that sick plants can’t produce as much food for them to eat, so that some crop protection products are necessary to keep this from happening.”
Another student, Keren Duerksen of Kansas State University, has used social media to share her agricultural experiences and educate to a much broader audience. “In one recent video I posted about corn pollination, I showed myself in a field with the song ‘It’s Raining Men’ playing in the background,” said Duerksen.