Grundmeier is Passionate about Wildlife Conservation, Gardening and Agronomy
Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Mark Grundmeier’s career path in agriculture is filled with unexpected twists and turns. You might be surprised to learn this land-locked Iowan was accepted to the University of Alaska for Oceanography. He decided to stay closer to home and graduated from Iowa State University (ISU) after changing his major from Computer Science to Fisheries & Wildlife Biology.
“I’ve never regretted that decision,” says Mark. “What I learned at ISU, both academically and socially, changed my life for the better and has led me down the path to where I am today.”
Mark was born in Manning, Iowa. His mom taught kindergarten through eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse. His dad was a mechanic. When Mark was four years old, his family moved to Aspinwall where his dad bought a garage and went into business for himself.
After graduating from Manilla High School, Mark decided to major in Computer Science at Iowa State.
“My decision was based solely on the buzz back then that computers were the newest technological marvel. I wanted to be a part of that new wave,” says Mark. “Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed my brief foray into that field, I quickly discovered that I had a serious adversity to Advanced Physics. I was horrible at it. That lead me to look for a different major. Because one of my original intents was to study Oceanography at the University of Alaska, I chose the closest curriculum that ISU had to offer, which was Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. Fortunately for me, FWB was in the College of Agriculture at the time. My coursework was filled with classes in Agronomy, Botany, Zoology and other areas that gave me a very well-rounded education.”
Upon graduating from ISU in 1975, Mark looked for work in the FWB field. All he could find at the time was part-time jobs. He accepted a part-time position in the fall of 1976, helping the co-op in Manilla. He worked for local farmers walking soybeans, detasseling corn and baling hay. He also worked as a swine herdsman.
“It was work that I enjoyed doing and it seemed I had a natural affinity for it,” says Mark. “After all, my last name in German means ‘ground master’!”
During the summer of 1977, Mark took a summer internship with the Central Platte Natural Resource District (NRD) in Grand Island, Nebraska. He met with farmers throughout the region, helping them develop and implement wildlife management plans. Although Mark was offered two NRD jobs at the summer’s end, the positions paid less than minimum wage. He was months away from getting married and needed a better job.
“As God has been with me my whole life, He was also with me then and the co-op manager that I had worked for earlier that year called me to say they were looking for somebody to start in the Farm Service Co-op system as a Management Trainee. The starting wage was almost twice what the NRD had offered me! That lead me to a 19-year career at Farm Service Co-op where I worked up through the ranks and eventually settled on the Agronomy side of that business and was a Regional Agronomy Manager for them in charge of multiple locations. It was at that time that we started selling soybean seed and Latham Seeds was one of our partners in that business.”
Research Became Mark’s Calling
The Latham Seeds newsletter in 1996 announced that John Holmes was retiring as Seed Agronomist. Mark applied for the position and was hired in October of that year.
“The entire research process is a lot of fun. It never gets old because the results you see are always unique to that growing season and the environmental factors you are given,” says Mark. “Our job in Research is to observe those differences and try to make some sense of the outcome, so we can pass along useful information to our farmer-customers so they can achieve higher yields and profitability.”
“I joined Latham Seeds in October of 1996. The family atmosphere over the past 23-plus years has been one of the outstanding things about Latham Seeds,” adds Mark. “I get to work with a group of people who are concerned about everyone’s well-being. I wouldn’t have stayed with this company for this long if it hadn’t been that way, but I’m just a youngster as far as number of years of service is concerned. Other employees have been on board for 30 and even 40 years or more!”
When he’s not working at Latham Seeds, Mark is active in his community. He and Jerri have held various church offices, and Mark enjoys singing in the choir. He was a member of the University and Oratorio Choruses at Iowa State. He also was a member of Midwestern Players in Denison, Iowa. Outside of work and community, Mark enjoys fishing, gardening and golf.
“I’ve just started teaching my grandchildren how to fish and enjoy the outdoors, especially being on the water,” says Mark.
When his family gathers, you can bet his grandchildren will be looking forward to Papa’s cookies. Today Mark is sharing his treasured family recipe with us.
Unbaked Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
- 3 cups quick oatmeal
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 6 TBS. cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup butter (or margarine)
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Thoroughly mix the oatmeal, coconut and cocoa in a large bowl and set aside.
Cook the sugar, butter and milk on the stove top for approximately 2 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture starts to boil.
Add the vanilla to the liquid mix and stir well. Pour the liquid mix into the bowl containing the oatmeal, coconut and cocoa. Stir well.
Drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper, cover gently with another sheet of wax paper or a kitchen towel. Let the “cookie drops” sit for several hours or until you can pick them up without them falling apart in your hand. ENJOY!