My name is Austin Ator and I from the town of Pittsfield, Illinois. Pittsfield is a small farming town and I consider myself blessed to have been raised in a community that is centered on agriculture. I was even more fortunate to have grown up on my family’s corn and soybean farm. This is where my passion and love for agriculture came about and I decided to pursue a career in the agriculture industry. I am currently a Senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Technical Systems Management with a minor in Agribusiness Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My goal is to use my degree after graduation to help make the farming process as easy as possible for farmers and aid in the further advancement of the agriculture industry.
This past year I was very fortunate to have been selected as a GFAI Scholarship recipient with I am beyond grateful for. I am honored to have been chosen as a scholarship winner through the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and greatly appreciate all of the opportunities that the scholarship has and will continue to provide to me and the other recipients. One of my favorite parts of being a recipient was attending the Industry Immersion Tour during the summer of 2020. I really enjoyed the tour as it was a very eye-opening experience that gave me a better understanding of the grain handling process from beginning to finish. A specific memory of the tour was getting to tour the Peoria lock and dam. Most people would not think of the river system as part of the grain industry, yet it plays a vital role in grain transportation and having been able to go on this tour really helped to develop my appreciation of the expansiveness of the grain industry. The GFAI Scholarship program has also provided me with the opportunity to job shadow a local grain elevator during the fall and spring semesters. I look forward to completing my job shadows and sharing my experiences in the spring.
My name is Miriam Hoffman and I hail from a diversified crop and livestock farm in north central Illinois, where my passion for agriculture began. As I became heavily involved in FFA during my time at Earlville High School, I began to see how I could build a meaningful career in the agriculture industry by serving both farmers and consumers. As of fall 2020, I am a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale studying agribusiness economics; I will be deferring both 2021 semesters to fulfill my year of service as a National FFA Officer, and look forward to learning and sharing more about the beautifully diverse industry of agriculture in that role. I am so grateful to have been selected as a 2020 GFAI Scholarship Recipient. This fall, I was placed with the Mound City CGB location in the southern tip of Illinois. I spent two days shadowing the facility manager, Jonathan Pounds, and learned about both barge and rail operations. We also travelled to the Birds Point, Missouri, location that Mound City oversees; the intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers is an incredible sight and I was fascinated to learn of some of the history that made the location what it is. One of my favorite parts of the two days was walking out across the catwalk to see the barge operations over the river. The barge loading and unloading point is across the Illinois-Kentucky state line, so I visited two new states during my time at Mound City CGB! Mr. Pounds introduced me to a number of other employees at the location, from operations to accounting to grain merchandising. I experienced a broad range of potential opportunities in the grain industry and I am grateful for the experience provided by the GFAI. I look forward to returning with a blog post in the spring, where I will relate my National FFA experiences to the grain industry.
My name is Jacy Castlebury and I am a junior at Western Illinois University studying Ag Business with a minor in Economics. Over the past two summers, I have interned with Dearwester Grain Services, a grain elevator and feed mill based out of Golden, IL. While I was there, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and hands on experience about both the grain and feed industries. My favorite part about working at Dearwester Grain was learning about the grain markets and how the futures and basis work. In my future, I want to pursue a career in grain merchandising, and this internship helped me to learn a lot of the important basics, like basis trading and contracting.
This year, I was chosen as one of the 2020 GFAI Scholarship recipients. I am extremely grateful for the GFAI and the scholarship that they have provided me with to support my education. Along with the scholarship, I have had the opportunity to job shadow at Western Grain Marketing in Adair, IL. I was very impressed with how nice this facility was and how smoothly it was ran. After spending some time in the office, we took a tour outside. The morning that I was there, they were loading a rail car. I thought this was the most interesting thing that I had seen there, because I had never seen a rail car being loaded before. I was even able to go up to the top of the stairs and see how they loaded it from up above. Overall, it was a great day and I learned a lot from it. I appreciate Scott Sims and the rest of the crew at WGM in Adair for having me and taking the time during the middle of harvest to show me what they do!