By Emily T., Production Research Intern and Student Ambassador
I will be a senior in Agronomy at Iowa State University this fall. Originally, I came to Iowa State as an Animal Science major, but then switched to Agronomy at the beginning of my sophomore year. By that time, I had acquired a passion for crop production and realized that I wanted to learn more about agronomy. It is exciting to be a part of producing the grain that farmers will grow in the future to feed the world! Now, as I embark upon my final year, I know that it was the best thing that I could have done.
During my first summer with Monsanto, I worked as a Seed Production Intern in Boone, Iowa. The main responsibility that I received was the position of Contract Coordinator. I managed the safety and quality of an 80-person crew, with the majority of the crew being high schoolers. We needed five buses to transport everyone, so getting in and out of the fields was always an interesting adventure! The high school students definitely tested my leadership skills, but it was a great experience. The previous three summers, I worked in seed corn production as a field inspector, but for a different company. Moving from production to production research this summer was a huge shock for me, as everything is on a much smaller scale, but is more labor intensive per acre. However, I was able to absorb a lot of information, and my co-workers and supervisors were eager to help me learn.
My summer began with a trip to St. Louis for three days of networking and learning all that Monsanto is as a company—and what it stands for. It was a great time to meet and network with crop leads, human resource representatives, and many other St. Louis-based team members.
While I did not get to help with planting in the field, I did get to fill cassettes for the new cassette planter. Stand counts came around quickly, but lasted quite some time! Coming from production, I did not understand why we had to count every single plant in the field instead of just finding an average stand or population count. However, as the summer progressed, I began to see the importance of the “extreme” documentation.
The main part of my internship this summer was note taking. I was assigned specific studies to document, and I found watching the plots progress through taking the flowering notes to be really neat. Each inbred matured at its own rate—and being able to see that first-hand was cool. The notes we took included silk and pollen percentages, tassel ratings, and some sterility ratings. During that time, a pretty strong wind storm came through that created a significant amount of green snap. While that caused us to deactivate several plots, it was actually pretty exciting to see the drastic difference in the stalk strength between inbred varieties.
Going forward, I would like to work more with pre-foundation and foundation. Since I have been exposed to both production and production research, I think that working in these areas would bridge the gap in my knowledge and experiences. It would be neat to be involved in each part of the field pipeline.
While Monsanto is a large company, each site has a small-town feel to it. This is what keeps me coming back and hoping for a full-time position after graduation. I discovered during my time in Iowa—both in Boone and Williamsburg—that each plant has small niche groups that function well together and each team is inclusive. Although I was only there for a summer, everyone that I met and worked with treated me with respect and as though I was there to stay for the long term. The company culture is uniquely comforting and innovative.
All in all, I am looking forward to returning to Iowa State University this fall to begin the Monsanto Student Ambassador position. This role will consist of networking, student engagement, and many other exciting opportunities that I am eager to take part in while representing the company on campus. It will be an awesome journey for me, and I’m excited for the opportunity to make Monsanto more accessible to students at Iowa State University this academic year.