My name is Collin White, and I am a senior at Illinois College majoring in Agribusiness with a minor in Economics and business administration. My goal after high school is to return to the family farm to work alongside my brother and grow diversified row crops. As a kid, I spent a lot of time during harvest in the passenger seat riding back and forth to our local grain elevator which sparked my interest in what happens behind the scale. This made me incredibly grateful to receive the Illinois Grain and Feed scholarship and go on the immersion tour to learn more about the industry.
For my job shadowing this fall, I had the opportunity to work with Cole Stock at Western Grain Marketing in Prentice, Illinois. On my first day, I spent time with many of the staff members to walk through the day-to-day operations at the elevator and see what happens when a load comes from their point of view. I started at the scale learning about the different programs and systems used to process shipments and how to manage multiple trucks coming through at once. While working the front, not only did I learn about the importance of staying organized, but also how important it is to maintain connections with farmers and understand their different needs and operations. After working on the scale, I went out to the pits to understand how the flow of grain is controlled within the facility. We first went over some safety practices to not only ensure the safety of the people working when around moving trucks and pits but also to prevent accidents that could damage large parts of the facility. After talking about safety and getting a tour of the outside of the facility, we looked over the control panels and pits to go over the logistics of moving grain throughout the facility. This includes understanding what commodity is in which bin, how full they are, and what pits can reach which bins. We talked about the logistics of filling bins and when loads can be shipped out to ensure there is still enough space on site.
For my second day, I came back to the office to work more closely with Cole to understand his role and what needs to be done when preparing for post-harvest. With harvest winding down, farmers are now watching the market and making decisions on when to sell and how much to sell. When farmers call in asking for advice, there are typically two things to keep in mind: first are you profitable, and second are you comfortable riding the volatility of the market? Being there for farmers and maintaining that relationship is incredibly important for small, rural elevators so providing support for customers takes priority after harvest. Working with Cole, we also talked about winter operations of elevators shipping loads out toward end-user terminals and balancing the storage of the facility. On the line same, we discussed the margins of an elevator and what information is used to develop the basis. The biggest takeaway I got was the central role that a local elevator plays in a mutual relationship between customers and the elevator to ensure that both parties can navigate the market for years to come.
Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.