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!
My name is Parker Karrick and I am from Patoka, Illinois which is in Marion County. I am currently a senior at Murray State University where I am studying Agriculture Leadership. This year, I was blessed with being chosen as a Grain and Feed Association of Illinois Scholarship recipient. This scholarship has already enabled me to network with new individuals, experience different aspects of the industry, and have hands-on experience. As part of my job shadowing, I had the opportunity to go to Tosh Farms in Henry, Tennessee. While there, I shadowed Caleb Haywood who is the Elevator Operations Manager at Tosh Pork. Mr. Haywood took the time to show me their elevator process and explained to me how they use it as a feed mill to support their hog operation. On my first visit there, I mainly just toured and learned about the company and on my second visit, I dove in and helped test the grain that was coming in. This is a task I have done in previous jobs, but it allowed me to see how similar tasks can be different depending on the location that you are in. Although similar, the growing season, crops, and other aspects of the agriculture industry have their differences from Tennessee to the rural area of Illinois that I am used to. Overall, this was a great experience for me to partake in and I look forward to returning to Tosh Farms in the spring!
On September 29, 2020, I completed my first fall work day at Advance Trading, Inc. in Bloomington, IL. I spent the first few hours of the morning with Nathan Mangold. I was first given an overview of the territories and companies that ATI works with and Nathan showed me some of the commodity price tracking programs he utilizes to complete his job. I then listened in on a call that Nathan had with several operators at an elevator in Kansas, where they discussed the state of the markets and what to watch for in the days to come as the harvest season progresses.
I then met Curt Strubhar and sat in on a virtual meeting with representatives from the NGFA, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and a railroad company that transports received grain. These groups discussed how the markets are conducted and how important the railroads are in transporting the grain. It was interesting to see how workers from different areas of the same industry taught each other about how these seemingly distant trades tie in together to accomplish the goal of getting grain where it needs to be.
After lunch, I sat in on the weekly meeting with about 10 brokers at ATI. In this meeting, they covered the pressing issues that would be encountered in the coming week and throughout the harvest season. Much of the information involved supply and demand trends across the world and how they will impact us here in central IL.
Overall, this was a very beneficial day for me as I again learned how widespread and yet interconnected the grain industry is.
What a whirlwind 2020 has been so far. This summer I had a great opportunity to intern with the merchandising team at Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) at their regional office in Eagle Grove, IA. AGP primarily engages in purchasing soybeans from regional and local cooperatives, as well as private elevators. With the merchandising team I purchased soybeans, sold hi-pro soybean meal, soybean hulls, and AGP’s dairy bypass protein, AMINOPLUS®. Additionally, I analyzed our daily hedging position, compiled plant reports, and assisted with truck dispatching. My supervisor for the summer was Shara Schmeling, the merchandising manager for the Eagle Grove regional office. I had the opportunity to sit down with Shara to gain some insight into her path in merchandising, as well as gather some advice.
Shara got her start in merchandising through an internship she had while at Iowa State her junior year. She started with AGP in 2010, and first worked at AGP’s plant in Emmetsburg, IA before moving to Eagle Grove after a year. At each plant, she engaged in the procurement of soybeans and sale of finished soy commodities, developing relationships with customers, and engaging in supply chain management. Today, Shara is the regional merchandising manager for the Eagle Grove office, which oversees merchandising and logistics for the Emmetsburg and Mason City, IA plants as well. When I asked Shara to reflect on her time at AGP she stated, “My role with AGP is a very fulfilling one, I enjoy the company and the culture. I am part of a team who is very committed and work hard every day.” When speaking to those interested in a career in merchandising, she highlighted the importance of learning about the fundamentals of merchandising and gathering experience with a company to learn about the day to day activities.
I appreciate the continued financial and interactive support of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. I had a great experience talking with members in February at the annual convention, and the willingness of these members to make time to offer advice to those of us interested in the industry.
I wish you all a safe and successful harvest season, and I hope to see you in February.
Will J. Feucht
My name is Wade Hutchens and it is my honor and with great appreciation I write this blog post for the GFAI as a renewable scholarship recipient. I am from Ewing, Illinois in Franklin County, where I grew up on a cow/calf and show pig farm. I attended Illinois State University and studied Animal Science and Animal Industry Management. Currently, I attend Kansas State University as a Graduate Research Assistant in Swine Nutrition. I will be finishing up my Master’s degree in Applied Swine Nutrition from Kansas State this winter and my goal is to become a Swine Nutritionist working with producers to better their own operations by nutritional means.
Through my participation with GFAI I have worked with member facilities, visited and learned about operations across Illinois, and interacted with key individuals that help feed America every day. This year, as a renewable scholarship recipient, I had the opportunity to interview Dylan Moyer. Dylan is a close friend of mine. We attended Illinois State together, lived together, and were Alpha Gamma Rho brothers. It has been amazing to see him grow and develop himself as a professional in the agriculture industry.
I asked Dylan to introduce himself and he said,
“I grew up in Carlyle, IL on a dairy farm and went to Carlyle High school. I was involved with FFA, 4H, dairy bowl, and showed dairy cattle.”
Even though I knew a lot about his college experience, I wanted him to provide the reader with a look into his college experience and give a little advice and he said,
“My time in college was a pivotal time that shaped my career and outlook of how I see the agricultural industry and my trajectory of where I want to take my career. I truly feel like the advisors and my fellow collegiate colleagues broadened the way I see the industry. Through college I saw it important to put myself out there being involved in RSO's that helped to develop that broadening through connections and like-minded individuals. Through my advisors they pushed me to apply for scholarships, and organizations for career fairs and meetings with industry leaders. I encourage anyone looking to attend college to push themselves and to take that first step of putting themselves out there.”
I asked him how did you prepare to get a job,
“I prepped by looking over several interview and situational questions that could be asked in an interview. I also attended several career fairs and used past experiences to lean on to play to my advantages to attain that job.”
I asked Dylan what he currently does,
“Currently, I work for Bunge North America as a grain merchandiser. In this role I purchase grain from farmers, I analyze the market to form an educated opinion of the fundamental and technical side of the market. I also play a key role in the forecasting of my facilities logistics play whether shipping domestic or internationally which best fits the PNL of the facility.”
I asked Dylan where does he see himself in 5 or 10 years,
“Next 5-10 years I see myself as a regional manager and past that as a vice president within an organization.”
Finally, I asked Dylan’s opinion on what does the future of Agriculture hold for us,
“I think agriculture is at a pivotal turn realizing the different ramifications of COVID-19 and how people can manage to work remotely and abroad. With the use of technology, I see less people in the "office" and more at home because we are so connected. I think the role of technology will continue to link and further push agriculture to become economically and sustainable for the future so producers can spend more time on other key aspects of their operation.”
I thanked Dylan for his time and with individuals like him coming into the agriculture industry, our future, as an industry is bright. I would like to thank the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois for the continued support of myself and others.
This is Wade Hutchens signing off. Thank you for reading, and may your yields be bountiful and your livestock healthy.
After a whirlwind of complications postponed my spring host facility plans, I was lucky to complete my two days in June at Bocker-Ruff Grain in Polo, IL. My first day involved a brief tour of the facility, and shadowing Paul Behrends, the General Manager. I learned a great deal about buying grain, how grain is sold and transported via the railway, and a broad understanding of how their facility operates. On day two, I got the opportunity to learn more about the administrative side of their location, along with briefly operating the scale and probing trucks for grain samples. Upon the conclusion of my hosting, Paul and I engaged in a brief conversation about my summer plans. He offered me a part time summer job on the spot. I thoroughly enjoyed my time throughout the summer and got to do a little bit of everything. From operating the scales, grading grain, helping seal the trains, and clean up around the elevator, I was able to work part time before the beginning of my fall semester. This fall I plan to work during the harvest season, when time permits, and I am excited to continue working in the agriculture industry.
Since my journey began with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois last summer, I have been blessed with numerous opportunities, as well as memories and connections to cherish forever. I want to thank everyone at the GFAI and all of their donors that have made these experiences available to me. I would finally like to wish everyone a safe and successful harvest. Hopefully one thing in 2020 can go right!
Hello, this is Luke Zimmerman with an overview of an interview I had with Nic Anderson, a Livestock Business Developer with the Illinois Livestock Development Group. When looking for someone to interview for the GFAI Scholarship, I chose Nic for two reasons; his passion for the livestock industry and his down-to-earth, genuine character. Nic’s interest in agriculture began early in his life. Growing up, he was heavily involved in 4-H, and enjoyed raising poultry on his family’s farm. After graduating high school, he attended Western Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. Out of college, he took a job with a hog buyer where he learned a lot about grading carcasses and marketing pork. Later in his career, he worked for Premier Pork Systems, a genetic company. This position was critical in developing the understanding he has today of the industry’s genetic improvement systems. At Premier Pork, Nic was also introduced to sales which he feels has been a tremendous help to him in his current position. Today, Nic holds the position of Livestock Business Developer with the Illinois Livestock Development Group (formerly the Illinois Animal Coalition). In his current role, he works to support and develop all species of livestock production throughout Illinois. Nic’s job consists of supporting livestock producers through the building process. Often this involves helping them work through any opposition they might face during the permitting and building process. Nic’s favorite part of his job is meeting and working with some of the best family farms in the state. He genuinely enjoys sharing his perspective and experience with these families and helping them in any way he can. To the next generation of agriculturists, Nic says, “The more experience you can get the better. Take the time to broaden your perspective and learn everything you can about a variety of topics in the industry.” Overall, when it comes to livestock development in Illinois, Nic is a wealth of knowledge and provides an exceptional contribution to our industry. I am honored that he took to time to complete this interview for the GFAI scholarship and I truly learned a lot through the time I spent with him. I am also very grateful to the GFAI and the feed and grain industry for the many opportunities that have been provided to me. As I finish up my degree and take my place in the industry, I look forward to when I can give back to the very industry that has been such an inspiration to me.
My name is Cole Wright and I am a renewable scholarship recipient for 2019-2020 school year. I am a junior at Iowa State University majoring in Agronomy and working towards a minor in Animal Science.
I was going to complete my two day internship at Michlig Grain in Bradford over my spring break. But Illinois was shut down as soon as I got home for break. My internship wasn’t in Illinois, but I figured that this was a close second!
I started working for Henderson Farms as soon as I transferred to Iowa State last fall. I help with the grain side of their operation, and choring cattle and hogs occasionally. Luckily Clint, my boss came to my rescue when Illinois shut down for COVID 19. He has an excavator and bucket that picks up corn that has been piled outside during the fall at local elevators throughout central Iowa. Usually he picks up close to 4 million, this year we will push close to 8 million. We were recently hired to pick up corn for ADM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. During my spring break, instead of interning at Michlig Grain, he asked to tag along and help with the pile in Cedar Rapids. I ran the skid loader pushing corn from the center of the pile to feed the excavator. ADM had two piles (1 is still left) each with 1.83 million bushels of corn! We picked the one pile in seven days! Averaging 300,000 bushel in a 14 hour shift, or roughly 21,500 bushels an hour! It was a long 7 days, we had to run from noon until 2am to limit fighting the incoming trucks hauling outside corn during ADM’s normal receiving hours.
I was very thankful to be asked to go along and help Lucas (excavator operator) pick up that pile. I look forward to picking up the last one in May. Seeing everyone come together during these tough times showed me how united we are as an agricultural community to keep providing feed, food, and fuel to the country.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.