By Dominique Ebbenga, University of Minnesota Senior
“My Office for the Summer”
Hi, my name is Dominique Ebbenga and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota majoring in Agricultural Communication and Leadership. Over the summer I was enrolled in a course that requires you to take part in an internship of your choosing. I chose to take an opportunity with a company called Lakeside Foods, a canning company for vegetable crops. For the summer I worked as their crop scout. Little did I know, this would be the highlight of my college career.
I titled this blog, “My Office for the Summer” because I found myself learning the most in my office. This office was not the typical office you find in a building, always located in the same place. My office was spread in areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota. I learned many different species of weeds, and plant diseases I also learned that, in my office, there is no shade from the sun, but that I wouldn’t want it any other way. The office I am describing to you is the almost 8,000 acres of field I crop scouted. I did have the conventional office space at the plant, but I spent most of my time walking those fields. Yes, I am calling the fields, my office, only because this was where I got the majority of my work and learning done. I started by getting population counts on the fields to get an estimated yield of that crop, this was typically a week or two after the seed had been planted. After I did that once in the field I would go back on a weekly basis and check them for weeds, diseases, and pests, then I would report my findings to my boss and he would recommend to the farmer whether to cultivate, or spray. When the plants reached maturity I would go out, early in the morning, to pull samples to run them through a couple of tests to see when they would be perfect for picking. My office was not conventional, but it was a true blessing, there were no walls keeping me out of the beautiful weather we had over the summer, and it put me in an element that only makes my passion for agriculture that much stronger.
During this internship I had the time of my life, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t face some challenges. Starting out I knew little to nothing about vegetable crops, specifically green beans, since those were the crops I mainly dealt with. I found myself worried in the beginning I would not successfully scout these crops, but I was fortunate enough to have bosses that were more than willing to teach me everything I needed to know. Another challenge I faced this summer would be my lack of navigation, without a GPS. The fields I went to obviously did not have an address, so when I started out this summer, I needed to learn how to read their custom maps, and fast. They all told me to give them a call if I was lost, because they know where the fields are by heart, and every street in Wisconsin it seemed like, but my pride would not allow that. I buckled down and learned to read the maps within the first week, it was a lesson that I needed to learn, I can’t be so dependent on technology, because we all know that sometimes the GPS on our phones isn’t always right. Achieving that simple task wouldn’t seem like much to some people, but to me it was always a great feeling to end up at the right field without the help of technology. The challenges I faced this summer, in my office, really helped me grow as a person emotionally and physically.
In my summer office I learned more about myself as a person. I learned that I can adapt to any situation, and I have the drive to get what needs to be done, done. I discovered that when you find a career that fits your passions, the hours worked don’t matter anymore. I got encouragement to pursue my dreams after college, and made great connections with people who I know will always be there to help me out when I need it. My summer office taught me a lot about where I would want to be in the future, and I thought I already had that figured out. It just goes to show that at this stage in my life the world is in my hands, and the more experiences I have, the more I will learn about myself. I discovered myself this summer, and it is all thanks to the office I spent it in.