Saturday, May 2, 2015

Eeeek... All the Things I Should be Blogging About!

Sometimes it's really hard to keep up with all the things I should be blogging about. I get to attend so many amazing events through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, that it's hard to catch a breath to write my thoughts down in between. Here's a summary of some of the things I've been wanting to share with you! (some for months...eeek!)

Back in February, I attended the National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives in Minneapolis, MN. You may have seen my social media posts using #CCOC15 and wondered what I was up to. Maybe I'm just nerdy, but this conference was truly life changing. I've always known I'm motivated by my passions and interests in the community rather than huge profits or sales statistics, but didn't know how that perspective fit in the business world until this event. It was great to hear other people with similar thoughts talk about their successful organizations. This experience certainly has made me consider the business structure I want in a future employer. Over the course of the conference I got to hear speakers from Peace Coffee, Aynah, and the National Farmers Union. We even took a little field trip and visited a housing cooperative, REI, and Steward Coop. You can read more about the weekend here.

One of the highlights of being involved in extracurricular clubs, is packing your bags and heading out to learn about some place new. (...minus the packing part!) Earlier this semester I went on my 3rd NAMA industry tour. We headed up to Wisconsin and stopped to visit four awesome companies. First things first, we visited New Glarus Brewing Co. and learned how different varieties of grains are selected for their products. Their beer is only sold in Wisconsin, so as a marketing team, we were interested in their unique approach. Next up, we visited marketing agencies Bader Rutter and Morgan Myers, who both have several agricultural accounts. I've never had the chance to work for a marketing agency, but talking to them really made me want to try agency life. Finally, we met with CASE IH marketing folks. They shared a lot of interesting information, but there were a few thing that really surprised me. Did you know, it is someone's job to look at all the photos the company publishes to make sure all the equipment is the perfect shade of red?? I plan to write an entire post about the trip, but in the mean time, you can check out our club's Facebook page for photos.

Water has been a big issue lately here in Iowa, and a court case has a lot of people talking about farmer's nutrient management practices. The Iowa State University Corn Growers Association had expert, Ben Gleason come speak at our monthly meeting to explain what's going on. That night I learned a lot about cover crops, bio-reactors, reduced tillage, and buffer strips. I've taken agronomy classes for years, but it still amazes me how many different things farmers are doing to control the nitrogen and phosphorus on their farms. I really should write a blog post on that meeting too, it was pretty neat. Check out this website if you're interested in learning more.

The Ag Business Club also goes on an industry tour each fall and spring. You can read more about the fall trip here. Our spring trip is shorter and just a day trip to a few businesses in Iowa. This year we visited OSI, a company that makes processed meat and such, and AGP, a soybean processing facility. At OSI we saw how bacon and hot dogs are made, and got to taste several of their products! I learned OSI supplies most of the meat to McDonalds. At AGP we learned more about marketing grain, logistics, and processing soybeans. We ate dinner with several company representatives and they all had wisdom and stories to share with us students.

The most recent industry tour I attended was the AgEI trip. The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative is one of my favorite organizations on campus, so I couldn't miss the opportunity. Our stops included Jasper Winery, La Quercia, Capital City Fruit, and Stine Seed. Each stop shared great advice for us as students, and I absolutely love listening to the stories of how each business began. I learned so much about wine and enjoyed a few samples at Jasper Winery. The whole time I was at La Quercia, all I could think about is how my Papa Tony would have loved to meet the owners and taste their prosciutto. The logistics and labels at Capital City Fruit blew my mind and Harry Stine is one of the most inspiring supporters of the program I have ever met. There will be a post about this trip too, eventually, but in the mean time stop by their Facebook pages to learn more.

Another great event the AgEI program hosts is Entrepreneurship Roundtable. Each semester, students get to sign up for a free meal and networking with 5 or 6 entrepreneurs. The business people share their stories and opportunities for student involvement and students ask questions and share their entrepreneurial dreams. I've met so many inspiring people at this event over the last three years. You can look forward to a post about Kinosol, a student business building mobile food dehydrators for third world countries, and the other guests soon. You can learn more about the Kinosol team, their travels, and progress on their website.

Just a few weeks ago, I toured the Dean's Gallery in Curtiss Hall with 3 other students and the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Wendy Wintersteen. I had always been intimidated by the hallway that holds so much beautiful artwork, because there are so many important offices in that wing. Dean Wintersteen took the time to explain several of the art pieces, including the Native American maiden cast for the fountain outside the Memorial Union. I'll post more about that experience this summer when the article comes out in STORIES, the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni magazine.

One of the biggest highlights of this semester has been traveling to Kansas City, MO for the NAMA National Conference. Iowa State took a competitive marketing team and I was able to serve on the Farm Credit Social Media Corps. It was the Corp's job to keep up conversation about the meetings on social media and promote each of the sessions. You may have noticed my social media blowing up with #NAMA15. While I was walking around doing my job, I met Texas Farm Girl, ran into the team I'll be working for at Beck's, and made lots of new friends from schools across the country. I even had the chance to sneak away and see the plaza with a friend. I can't wait to share the rest of the story in a later blog.

Finally, last week Iowa State University Corn Growers Association and Iowa State University Student Federation for Agriculture hosted a Farmland Screening and Panel complete with popcorn, a red carpet, and Captain Corn. We showed the documentary, Farmland, that tells the story of six young farmers and the trials and triumphs of their operations. Each featured farmer raises a different crop: corn and soybeans, poultry, pigs, cattle, vegetables, and organic crops. If you've never seen it, it's worth checking out on Netflix! After the film was over, six Iowa farmers came down to answer questions and share their ag stories. They each had such a unique perspective, but all of their comments fit together so perfectly. I'm working on a video summary of the night right now. Here's how you can learn more about the Iowa panelists:

Stay tuned for all the upcoming full length posts! Thanks for reading!

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