Grain News

Wheat Growers (SD) Recognized With Bridge Builder Award For Internship Program

Date Posted: October 9, 2012

Aberdeen, SD—Wheat Growers’ commitment to offering internship opportunities for students pursuing agricultural careers was recognized with the Bridge Builder award from the Aberdeen Development Corporation, the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and Absolutely Aberdeen (ABBY) during the 18th Annual ABBY awards banquet held September 27.

The ABBY Bridge Builder award recognizes student workforce development opportunities and is presented to a business or organization demonstrating exceptional performance and collaboration between students from area education institutions and their business or workplace.

“We are honored to receive the ABBY Bridge Builder award for the Wheat Growers’ successful internship program that offers tremendous learning experiences for students,” said Judy Stulken, Wheat Growers Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

“The internship program’s success is a result of the incredible number of people throughout Wheat Growers who devote time and mentoring to students.”

More than 20 students interned for Wheat Growers in 2012, in a program that emphasizes safety training, networking skills and hands-on agronomic, business and leadership experiences.

The program begins with a kick-off event that coaches students how to get the most out of their internship, and ends with a season wrap-up during which students receive a $750 scholarship and the opportunity to interact with the Wheat Growers Leadership Team during a Q&A session.

“It’s important to Wheat Growers’ leadership to let students know they want them involved in the company and industry,” Stulken said.

“We’ve had incredible talent come through the internship program who have later been hired as full-time employees for Wheat Growers and it’s part of our recruiting strategy.

"But the overarching goal is to promote agriculture as a very good career path.”

Wheat Growers’ unique internship program offers students the opportunity to apply for specialized interest areas including agronomy, sales, accounting and operations.

The activities allow students to put into practice knowledge they are learning in textbooks. Work may include collecting tissue samples, soil samples, managing test plots, identifying weeds, collecting data for forecasting reports, grain analysis and working with producers.

The program is continually evaluated and new opportunities are developed annually.

“Every year we try to take the program up a notch and add new things,” Stulken said.

“For example, we are promoting a program we developed last year for an Operations Internship.

"Students can learn grain elevator and agronomy operations activities, basically a cooperative management track.”

Wheat Growers’ representatives attend more than 10 career fairs at area colleges and technical schools to highlight the internship program. Stulken said most intern applications are the result of referrals from past interns or employees of Wheat Growers.

“One of our best indicators is when students come to us via recommendations from someone who had a good experience with Wheat Growers or when schools encourage Wheat Growers for offering an excellent program,” Stulken said.

“The ABBY Bridge Builder award will serve as a public commendation that Wheat Growers provides an internship program that is officially recognized for developing exceptional educational training and career opportunities for students.”

The Bridge Builder award is the second ABBY given to Wheat Growers; the cooperative received the Agribusiness ABBY award in 2011.

For more information, call 605-725-8333.

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