Hello again, everyone! This is Emma Kuhns checking in after her spring job shadow
days. To reintroduce myself, again, I am currently a junior at the University of Illinois -
Urbana-Champaign studying Agricultural & Consumer Economics with a concentration in Public
Policy & Law. I grew up on a hog and grain farm near Mason, IL and have been involved in the
agricultural industry my whole life. This led me to choose my college and major and now, is what
inspires me to pursue a Juris Doctorate from a law school in Illinois. I hope to use my degrees to
be of service to the grain and feed industry in Illinois.
Both of my job shadows were with Hasselberg, Grebe, Snodgrass, Urban, & Wentworth,
Attorneys and Counselors in Peoria, Illinois. For my spring job shadow, I had the opportunity to
meet with attorneys in the firm like Kyle Tompkins, whom I met with in the fall, James Grebe,
David Wentworth and William (Bill) Streeter. I met with each of them first at the Grain and Feed
Annual Conference where I was recognized as one of the scholarship recipients. They talked to
me about their involvement with the association over the years and their passion for
representing it as well as some of its members.
Following our time at convention, I toured their temporary and permanent offices and
learned more about the structure of their practices. I had the chance to sit down with Mr.
Wentworth and learn more about the litigation aspect of agriculture as well as his current
projects. I greatly enjoyed this portion as I have not had much experience with litigation in the
past and he gave me a deep dive into his practice. He specifically touched on an environmental
case he was currently charged with that aligned perfectly with some of the information I had
learned in my environmental law class last semester.
I want to thank the Hasselberg, Grebe, Snodgrass, Urban, & Wentworth team for
welcoming me into their offices and sharing their line of work with an aspiring student. This
experience has further my excitement for law school and my career afterward. If there is one
take away I have from this experience is that I have chosen the right field to study and I can’t
wait to be a part of the Grain and Feed Industry!
As the daughter of a grain farmer and small agricultural business owner, the importance of agriculture, and especially the grain industry, has been instilled in me from a young age. My name is Margaret Vaessen and I am currently a junior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying agricultural and consumer economics with a concentration in finance in agribusiness. I am from the small rural village of Sublette, Illinois where I had the privilege to observe and speak with the men and women who are responsible for the operation of the Sublette Farmers’ Elevator.
The Sublette Farmers’ Elevator is a place I hold near and dear to my heart as I first experienced it as a little girl when I would walk with my wagon up there every Monday to collect that week’s supply of chicken feed. There I was always met at the door with a smile and a reference by name. I have come to discover that the Sublette Farmers’ Elevator is a crucial part of the community. As I was sitting with Reed Acre, the general manager, we were able to discuss how national events impact how much grain he sells and at what price. There was a drought in the west causing consumers to be concerned that they would not be able to attain their normal consumption for their companies. Reed is challenged every day to look farther and farther ahead into the future so he can sell Sublette Farmer’s Elevator grain at a fair but profitable price as people are demanding more corn to be allocated to them in the coming months than they ever have before. Further, while Reed is making business decisions, the elevator is also making decisions for farmers indirectly. As I sat in the elevator on a day that was spitting rain and not in the best conditions to be harvesting, I still saw trucks coming into the elevator from the fields. It was near the end of harvest, and the farmers were tired from going for the past seven days straight and needed a break. I learned that day that sometimes the elevator makes the hard decision to shut down for the benefit of the farmer. The Sublette Farmers’ Elevator is a vital part of the community. When I was shadowing, I learned a great deal about where the grain goes, how it is bought and sold, and who is working in the facility. Running the Sublette Farmers’ Elevator is a team effort, and it was fun being a part of the team for a while.
Salutations! My name is Gunnar Wuebben, I am from the small town of Albany IL, located at mile marker 513.5 on the Mississippi River. Growing up in a small town I have developed a love for nature and agriculture. As a child to the point now I have always loved being involved in agriculture and helping out at the family farm. This love for agriculture has motivated me to work hard in school and to be a part of ag related groups at my college. It has helped me in my business classes, marketing and grain merchandising programs. With that I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to gain greater insight into the grain and feed industry through the GFAI Summer Immersion Tour as well as my fall job shadow days this fall at ADM in Clinton Iowa. During my fall job shadow in Clinton Iowa, I was in the bean area of the ADM plant. I thought it was very interesting since my family has taken corn there my entire life and I never knew they had a bean area of the plant. In this area and the time that I was there I got to see them unload trucks and trailers, along as the process from the inside of what happens when a truck is probed. Besides watching them unload trucks, I got to go outside and tour the bean area of the plant, and watch as they loaded barges full of beans and witness how they move them up and down the river with pulleys as they fill them up. I also learned that most of the beans they buy at that plant are just resold to other ADM sites farther down the river. As I was informed that the beans they were buying were getting bought and shipped to Quincy Illinois to be used by another ADM processing plant. Lastly I got to sit and visit with the people in the merchandising room their. Danial Hartman was the guy I got to sit with and ask all my questions too. He informed me on several topics and things I didn’t know about the grain and comedies market and how they do things there. He explained to me that his main job there is to get ahold of farmers and other grain co-ops and buy grain most importantly corn to help feed the monster of an ethanol plant that ADM is there. I would like to thank Daniel for having me at ADM for my fall shadow and teaching me many things about the grain industry that I didn’t know, along with helping me set up a spring shadow date to check out the other aspects of the grain industry
Hello! My name is Ellie Strubhar, and I’m from Bloomington, IL. Growing up around our family farm I developed a passion for agriculture. I’m a junior at the University of Illinois majoring in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration in Agribusiness Markets and Management. After courses like Ag Marketing, Commodity Futures and Options, and a past internship with Advance Trading, I’ve become excited for a future career in the grain industry. I’m thankful to have been selected as a recipient of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois Industry Immersion Scholarship which gave me the opportunity to job-shadow at Topflight Grain this fall.
On my first day job shadowing, I was able to meet and learn a little bit about everyone in the office. I spent a lot of time talking with Merchandiser Jeremy Glauner. This was super interesting as Grain Merchandising is what I am hoping to pursue as a career. I also met with Derrick Bruhn, General Manager and learned about his background, the company background, and about the different Topflight locations. I met with Kelley Lawhorn as well who is a Grain Originator. Kelley was also a part of the Industry Immersion Tour. Although by the time I started job shadowing the busy season was almost over, I did get to see a few trucks come through the facilities.
Two of my favorite parts of job shadowing were getting to sit through a board meeting as well as getting to visit different Topflight elevators. I enjoyed the board meeting because I was able to hear and learn about some of the background details that go into a company that I hadn’t thought about or previously learned in class. Part of the board consisted of farmers which made it interesting to hear their opinions more from the production side. Daily I was at the Monticello elevator, but I was also able to see the Milmine, and Pierson facilities While at Milmine I was able to watch a train being loaded and see all of the different aspects of that. Pierson is currently undergoing a large renovation and I was able to see some of the newer parts as well as hear future development plans.
I am very grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois Industry Immersion Scholarship as well as for the opportunity to job-shadow at Topflight Grain. It was a great application of the information I’ve learned in my classes, to the real world. I look forward to using everything I’ve learned at Topflight in my future courses, internships, and career.
Hello, my name is Megan Hagemann, and I am from Forreston, IL. I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin Platteville with a major in Animal Science, and an emphasis in Livestock Nutrition. My interest in the agriculture industry stems from my involvement in showing livestock at a young age. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to gain greater insight into the grain and feed industry through the GFAI Summer Immersion Tour as well as my fall job shadow days at Bocker Ruff Grain in Polo, IL.
While at Bocker Ruff Grain, I was hosted by the General Manager, Paul Behrends. I observed the morning paperwork that is prepared by Donna Dyer. After completing this aspect at the elevator, I was able to have a greater in-depth discussion with Paul Behrends and Scott Roberts on buying and selling grain, futures, and the function of the railway. I then had the opportunity to observe the inbound and outbound scale and moisture testing. To conclude my job shadow at Bocker Ruff, I was given a tour of the dryer at the facility and the technology behind it.
I’m very grateful for the knowledge and opportunities I have been given through the GFAI and my time at Bocker Ruff Grain, and I am looking forward to the convention in February.
On day one, with the guidance of the office manager, Bev Buckley, I learned to operate the scale. I utilized their software program called, Theos where I recorded the gross and tare weights of trucks. In addition, I operated the probe to collect corn and soybean samples and then tested the moisture. I sent trucks to designated pits depending on their moisture level and handed out tickets. I was also informed of Rabideau’s grain discount schedule regarding grain damage and foreign material. When I was not busy operating the scale, I calculated the basis for Rabideau’s physical books and made sure Rabideau Grain stayed below the open position limit of 50,000 bushels of corn and 25,000 bushels of soybeans. I assisted in hedging grain when necessary and copied hedges from Rabideau’s physical books into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. During a quiet period, I prepared several field maps for Rabideau employees to utilize when spreading fertilizer on customer fields. Comparing customer field maps to the previous year’s maps, I wrote down field acreage, type of fertilizer required, and the ratio per acre.
As if day one was not learning-packed enough, day two was no different. While shadowing office assistant, Lisa Patchett, I listened in on phone calls, prepared farmer checks when they decided to sell grain, and billed farmers for the use of Rabideau’s grain hauling service. In addition, I entered Rabideau Grain’s bills into their software system, Theos. I selected the correct expenditure department based on the type of bill, entered the invoice number, amount
due, printed the check, and then filed the check and statement to be mailed off before its due date. I also collected Rabideau Grain’s mail from the Post Office. In the afternoon, when the markets closed, I recorded the corn and soybean settlements in a book and posted them on Rabideau Grain’s website. In addition, I utilized their customer texting program, Textedly, to send out a mass text to customers with their bids.
Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity and knowledge obtained through these two fall job-shadowing days with Rabideau Grain and Lumber. I was able to apply a multitude of skills deriving from my Agriculture Economics and Agriculture Marketing courses. I look forward to returning in a few short months for my Spring job-shadowing days.
Hello, all! My name is Carli Wright and I reside in Bradford, Illinois. I hail from my
family’s grain and livestock farm, which is where I cultivated my passion for agriculture. I am
currently a sophomore at Black Hawk College - East and will be receiving my Associates in
Science in the upcoming spring. I will be continuing my education in the fall of 2023, at Iowa
State University, where I plan on pursuing a degree in Agronomy. I was recently selected for the
Illinois Grain and Feed Association - Industry Immersion Scholarship, in which I am beyond
This fall, I spent my industry immersion experience with Rumbold and Kuhn Inc. at two
of their locations. My first day of shadowing, I was placed at R&K’s Toulon location, in which I
spent the day shadowing Tammy, who is the office assistant / scale operator. I was able to view
the full circle of a truck. This included the inbound scale, moisture testing / grading, where the
grain is dumped, back to the outbound scale. I was also able to take samples of grain from the
trucks, and thankfully did not break anything (pheww)! Once the markets closed, I was then able
to view the process of recording the data. On my second day of shadowing, I toured R&K’s
Valley Central location. I gained more insight about R&K from Autumn, who is in charge of
RVF Seed, LLC Accounting / Grain Merchandiser/ Scale Operations. I gained a better
understanding of her day to day tasks along with the other amenities R&K provide. I also visited
and learned more about the other employees at the location, whose jobs varied from grain
merchandisers, office operations, accounting, and general managers.
I am truly grateful for the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and Rumbold and Kuhn Inc. for
providing this opportunity to gain more insight within the grain industry. I look forward to
becoming more involved in the grain industry and where it can lead me.
Hello again! I was able to attend the trade show and annual meeting this year in St. Louis and it was amazing experience. At the trade show I got to meet new people in the grain industry and talk to them about their experiences and got to see familiar faces I got to meet this summer while on the Industry Immersion Tour.
My first day job shadowing this spring, I shadowed Todd Farris, Paul Crombie, and Cindy Springer. I learned different things from each person. I first started the day with Todd Farris learning about future settlements and how to check them and make sure they are put into the computer program correctly. I learned that you want to hedge contracts for the time you plan to ship the grain, so you don’t have to worry about rolling contracts. We also talked about the market. When there is a carry (spread is negative) in the market that means you should hold your grain or store it. When the market is inverted (spread is positive) it means grain is needed right then. In Mt. Pulaski they were shipping grain out, so I got to see trucks get weighed in and out and watched them test grain. Then I went to the Elkhart office where I spent time with Paul Crombie learning about merchandising of grain. I found this very interesting. When a farmer sells grain to the elevator, they hedge in the futures market. He said, “merchandising is about relationships.” When he does bid for Elkhart Grain Company, he is trying to give the customer the best price for their grain by looking at several different place’s prices. An elevator is a hedger in the market not a speculator trying to make money in the futures market. Hedger use the futures market to reduce risk. I learned about what it means to mark to market, meaning you bring the grain to market and price it for what it is worth today. Then I also talked with Cindy Springer where she does accounting and we talked about some year-end information and how she gets ready and prepares it. I also got to learn more about mark to market with Cindy. While in Elkhart they were receiving grain from off the farm, so grain was coming in. I watched them weigh the trucks in sample the grain and weigh the trucks out.
The second day I shadowed Rick Aylesworth and talked about safety and what he does day to day. Safety is very important and needs to be taken seriously in the grain industry, so no accidents happen. We first started by looking over the employee manuals with OSHA safety requirements with training and each employee signs off on it, which is put in a binder and kept in the office. The OSHA 300 logs are annual reports that tells total hours for employees per location. That report also is used to fill out year-end reports and any injuries during the year which they post these reports per location in February to April. Every week on Fridays they do weekly plant inspections where the outside guys inspect all the locations by a checklist to point out any issues that can be addressed in the following week and are kept in a binder for 3 years. He also does end of the month measurements, enters them into a state software program telling the amount of grain measured in each bin per location. Some day-to-day things he also does is weigh outbound trucks in and out and inspect the grain. When a truck returns, he enters the ticket on the shipping record log and into the computer. When a ticket is entered into the computer then it is applied to a current contract open. The day I was shadowing they were shipping corn and soybeans to Decatur and Jacksonville. Also, they take phone calls from farmers for pricing grain that is in storage and pricing future contracts for the fall. They also accept offers on grain if the price the farmer wants would happen to hit in the overnight market, then the price would be locked in, and the farmer would get that price. He also talked about how he figures daily loads on what is remaining to ship and how much is currently remaining on the contracts.
I would like to thank the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois and Elkhart Grain Company for these opportunities!
Hello again, this is Jonathan Waibel. Just this week I finished the last of my job-shadowing sessions at Alliance Grain. This round we spent the majority of our time observing and participating in the elevator functions which pertain to rail loading. As before, JB Daughenbaugh, who is General Manager for Alliance Grain, graciously offered his time and insight, and personally explained the process to me. In today’s world of market inversions, it is often in the best interest of the commercial elevator to immediately sell and deliver as much of his basis ownership as he can logistically manage. In other words, Alliance Grain is currently maximizing their rail logistics to move as many bushels as possible.
Mr. Daughenbaugh took me to three different locations within Alliance Grain that were loading rail cars. Each was unique, and the various methods and procedures combined to provide me with a well-rounded perspective of rail loading. If the railcar is overloaded, then the railroad company will charge a fine for overweight and force the seller to come and reduce the load to the pre-specified parameters. This can be rather difficult, since some of the local railcars are first weighed in Mississippi or on the Canadian border. If too little of a commodity is loaded on the car, the railroad company charges something called “dead freight” to account for the “wasted” space in the hopper. To deal with this problem, Alliance Grain has installed scales to measure the weight of the railcar as it is being loaded and allow it to be filled up to the limit. An official grade must be given to the grain in each car. At one of the locations we visited there was a certified inspector on-site. This is highly advantageous as adjustments can be made on the fly by the loader to minimize FM, moisture, and other discounts. The alternative is to have the grain graded at its destination. The disadvantage of this is that if the grade were to show a higher than desired moisture on the train load, it is already a done deal; there is no fixing at this point.
One highlight of mine was climbing up to the “crows nest” where the operator(Tim) was filling the cars. Tim would communicate by radio with the engineer, who would then adjust the position of the car under the spout. When the scale readout indicated that the car was full, Tim would press a button and close the bin gate. As we travelled to different locations, Mr. Daughenbaugh pointed out to me that their original elevators were, in many cases, built right up close the railroad for ease of loading. Often they were also situated in the middle of a town. While it may have been convenient at some point, today it is better defined as cumbersome. Hard decisions must be made when a landlocked elevator needs to expand.
At our last stop I was able to tag along with the local elevator manager as he oversaw the loading of the cars. Two Track-mobiles were being used here, and they were pushing segments of 5 railcars at a time. I was impressed with the smoothness with which all the switches and run-backs were made. It seemed like ripe conditions for a pileup, but all the employees worked together and it ran like clockwork.
Overall, the experience was extremely positive. I have always noticed the trains traveling through our neighborhood, but I now have acquired a perspective of the railroad system that I will not forget. I am grateful to JB Daughenbaugh for sharing his time with me. And also to the rest of the team at Alliance Grain. Thank you!
Hello, again! I am wrapping up my senior year at the University of Illinois, and I spent my spring break shadowing Premier Cooperative’s facilities located in Central Illinois, as part of my industry immersion experience through the GFAI scholarship program.
On the first day of my shadowing experience, I had the opportunity to shadow two of their farm marketing specialists. I was able to learn about their strategies for networking with farmers in the area. As a cooperative, they explained that their major role is to work for the farmer and help them make decisions that will benefit them financially. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to observe a farm visit to one of their customer’s farming operations. It was evident in this meeting that they value their customers and strive to accommodate their needs. The marketing team was also very proud of their new phone application that allows customers to lock in prices for their commodities and review their seller information outside operating hours. To fulfill their mission to maintain high customer satisfaction, they strive to provide resources for their customers to make everything easily accessible.
The cooperative operates 25 different facilities across Central Illinois, and I had the opportunity to visit two of the facilities. Multiple facilities that they operate rely heavily on freight trains to transport their commodities, and it was very interesting to learn about the different markets and corresponding commodity prices associated with different rail lines. I was able to tour their elevator located in Dewey, which is one of their oldest and largest elevators with a total capacity of 7,380,066 bushels. At this location, they explained to me the recent upgrades and automation to their facility that allow them to drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to unload grain trucks bringing in commodities. The automation also allows them to load rail cars that are exporting their commodities quicker and more efficiently as well.
On the second day of the tour, I shadowed their administrative team at the headquarters in Champaign. I was able to meet with their Chief Financial Officer who explained his role in the cooperative. He informed me that his job is to provide information for their board of farmers that oversees the decisions made for the business. He was working on a spreadsheet that would show the board how different wage increases would impact their business. He also explained that these wage increases are necessary to maintain a reliable and qualified workforce. In addition to the CFO, I was able to meet with their merchandiser who handles most of the selling and purchasing of the commodities for the business. He explained how he makes marketing decisions in a volatile market to ensure that they can maintain the prices that their farmers desire. His day is spent primarily monitoring the markets and determining if it is in the best interest of the company to buy or sell commodities. He also explained how transportation impacts his decisions, as it is difficult to find semi-transport for their commodities.
I enjoyed my time at Premier Cooperative, and I learned a lot about their business. In all their facilities, I noticed they had a set of core values that their company strives to uphold. Among these core values was integrity, and after shadowing them for two days it was evident that they strive to maintain relationships with their customers and the community through mutual respect and honesty. I am grateful for the opportunity to shadow this business and I appreciate them taking the time to meet with me.
Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.