By: Daniel Hayes, U of M Student
During the summer of 2016, I was a crop scout intern with United Farmers Cooperative (UFC). Growing up working with UFC, I was familiar with their agronomy program. I heard about the internship from past interns, and I thought it would be an interesting position for me to pursue.
Working at the agronomy department at UFC was a great experience. There was an orientation day in April to prep interns for the upcoming summer, including forklift training and certification, safety certification, and general company information. Once the spring semester was over, I started working at the Winthrop UFC location, along with four other interns. We started the week with a training session with the head agronomist on identifying corn, how to complete stand counts, and how to use the Winfield R7 and Scoutpro tools on the iPad. That afternoon, we began scouting fields and taking stand counts. Along with that training, we were taught to stage corn and mark anything that a farmer or agronomist should know about the field at the time.
Throughout the summer we collected stand counts, standard deviations, scouted weeds, scouted diseases, and collected tissue samples. Each intern was given a project, and we were able to choose our trials. We toured all of the UFC locations, learned about the precision division in the UFC agronomy department, and at the end of the summer, we presented on projects and experiences with the company. I was taught to be more proactive and stay ahead of the workload, which helped me be organized in my professional and personal life. On a handful occasions, I got to talk with farmers about what was happening in their fields. There were two days where we went to our local Winfield Answer Plot, and the Winfield region agronomist would talk about what was going on in the area.
I also gained valuable connections, and these relationships helped me learn about myself and how I can progress professionally and become more knowledgeable about agronomy. Each intern brought something to the team that helped us get all the scouting done in a timely manner. Brett, our supervisor, was great to work with. All the interns helped me learn about myself and how I work with people. I built some great friendships that will last a lifetime.
The biggest highlight with my summer internship was working with the agronomist. He gave me some tips for finding my next internship, and helped me with my Winfield Wrap-Up PowerPoint. I got to ride around, meet with growers, and discuss what was happening on their farms. Those days were rewarding to me because we were working on solutions to help the growers, and I’m considering this to be a career option after college. The other highlight was gaining knowledge from the Winfield R7 and Scoutpro applications. Both applications helped me learn about the different weeds, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies, which make it convenient for scouts, agronomists, and farmers to identify problems.
I cannot replace the opportunities that I had this past summer!