This year, I was fortunate enough to have been selected as a GFAI Renewable Scholarship Recipient. This selection allowed me to have the opportunity to job shadow within the Illinois grain industry once again.
A lot has changed since my last blog post in April. I started a GROWMARK Internship mid-May at the Main Office of FS Grain, which is in Morris, IL. This twelve-week internship allowed me to sit at the merchandising desk and learn more about the grain industry. I soon recognized that while classroom education provides a solid foundation, nothing compares to the knowledge learned by doing and seeing. I am appreciative for the willingness Bryan Rader and Justin Burke, both Merchandisers, had in answering questions I asked. By sitting with them each day, I was able to pick up some key terminology and concepts within the grain industry. This increased my confidence while talking about specifics within grain merchandising. Additionally, I was able to pursue some projects that added value. This included working on a project that overhauled the internal process of creating and posting bids each day. This project was created to save time and prevent errors. This summer affirmed to me that I want to start my career within the grain industry.
I am grateful that, at the end of the summer, I was provided an offer to work full-time with FS Grain upon graduation. This offer was for a Grain Consultant position in Ransom, IL, which would essentially make me responsible for grain origination in that area. I accepted the offer and have continued to be excited for this opportunity, which is now just a few months away. This open position was due to the retirement of a long-time grain originator at the facility. This led me to request to job shadow for the GFAI Renewable Scholarship at this facility. I spent two days learning as much as I could about the ins and outs of the FS Grain Ransom facility. I focused a majority of my time with Pat Knapp, the retiring Grain Consultant. Through our conversations, I was able to see the application of building and maintaining strong relationships with the farmers. This included some morning talk with local farmers over a cup of coffee to start the day. It is actually impressive that with a significant customer list like she has, she has been able to maintain the strength of relationships with farmers for all these years. Furthermore, she shared great resources for learning more about the grain markets and where to seek out daily news updates. It gives me great confidence knowing that she is handing over the origination role in such a strong position.
What took this job shadowing experience to the next level was the ability to meet people from all aspects of the facility. That included Kenny Kral, Facility Supervisor. He was able to share key information about the outside, physical assets of the facility, like the rail loop, bin set up, ground pile space, loading and unloading, and much more. This information and tour gave me great perspective on how the facility works and what its advantages and disadvantages are. I also got to sit with Abby Zeimetz, who shared a lot of information about the accounting and settlement pieces of FS Grain. I appreciated the opportunity to see how these day-to-day duties were carried out. I also got to meet other operations personnel and scale operators, who all play an integral role in making the facility run smoothly. This two-day experience has led me to be more prepared and more excited to start in May!
All in all, I have a few takeaways. 1.) The grain industry, especially within the FS GROWMARK System, places and emphasis on people and the relationships with people. 2.) Asking questions will be key to my growth and success. 3.) Farmers are key to success—value, maintain, and, for me, build those relationships.
Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.