SoyScholars Program Helps Prepare Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders
By Amber Hammes, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Marketing Intern
In the agriculture industry, we’re always thinking about tomorrow. Farmers hope that next year commodity prices will be higher. Industry professionals say that in 2050 we’re going to have to feed an extra 2 billion people. The Iowa Soybean Association and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds are thinking about tomorrow too, that is to say, tomorrow’s leaders.
In hopes of engaging with young leaders and educating them about careers in agriculture, the ISA and Latham Seeds this year launched the SoyScholars program. This three-session agriculture experience allows students to explore career paths before they graduate high school or declare a college major. During sessions, students work directly with a mentor in their field of interest to gain hands-on experience, ask questions and make connections.
Four Iowa high school students were selected to participate in the career immersion program: Emily Campbell of Audubon High School, Hamlin; Alison Donaghy of Dowling Catholic High School, Des Moines; Jamison TeSlaa of Boyden-Hull High School, Hull; and William Rupnow of East Sac High School, Nemaha.
When asked about why they chose to apply for this opportunity, one bell rang clear: making connections. “I applied for the SoyScholars program because I knew it would make me more marketable, give me opportunities to learn and see new things, and allow me to gain valuable connections,” said Jamison TeSlaa.
Making connections wasn’t all that the Soy Scholars did, though. They spent a day at Latham’s headquarters in Alexander, Iowa, learning about the workings of a family-owned seed company. They toured Latham’s soybean manufacturing facility and learned about the importance of quality control. In addition, students interested in ag communications helped assemble a media kit. Students interested in precision farming learned about Latham’s Seed-2-Soil® agronomic services.
Last month students spent a day at the Iowa Soybean Association headquarters in Ankeny, observing how a large commodity association is run. “Within the first 10 minutes at the association, we were meeting all kinds of people and seeing things most people don’t get to see,” said Emily Campbell. “I was able to attend an ISA Communications meeting. We got to see what happens behind-the-scenes at ISA and at Latham Seeds. We got to talk with seed industry professionals that we never would have met if we hadn’t been selected for this experience.”
The Soy Scholars’ third and final stop will be at the Iowa State Fair in August where they will get to spend time at the Iowa Food and Family Project booth in the Varied Industries Building.
“This experience hasn’t just been good, it’s been great,” said William Rupnow. “I highly recommend it and can guarantee it is not a waste of time.”
Alison Donaghy added to that by saying, “Some conferences and similar opportunities aren’t as exciting, but this one has been great because my fellow SoyScholars are very goal-oriented and want to take something out of this experience just as much as I do.”
Tomorrow’s agriculture leaders are preparing for their future by taking great opportunities such as the SoyScholars program. We can’t wait to hear about their success and watch them lead American agriculture into an even brighter tomorrow!