Reprinted from Grain Journal July/August 2019 Issue
Huntley Leverenz | Elevator Manager | Bunge | McGregor, IA
“I was introduced to the Committee Apprentice Program through a previous colleague who had participated the year prior. He spoke very highly of the program, and I’m thrilled that I applied and went through it.
“I was a member of the Country Elevator Committee and did a fly-in to lobby in the House and Senate in Washington, DC. This was an amazing opportunity to share with politicians the challenges we face in the industry and offer ideas and solutions to combat these challenges.
“The highlight of the committee and the program was the opportunity to network with different members of the industry. I’d recommend this program to any up-and-comers in the grain and feed industry. The networking opportunities this program offers helped me create lasting friendships in the industry that I will continue to use throughout my career.”
Jenn Krultz | Commodity Merchant | Ingredients, LLC | Loyal, WI
“I learned about the Committee Apprentice Program while attending an NGFA trade rules seminar. I was talking to someone who happened to be in the program. She encouraged me to apply.
“I was interested in networking with other people in the industry in my age group and a similar place in their careers – people I don’t have the opportunity to communicate with regularly.
“After being accepted, I served on the Trade Rules Committee. I’m a commodity merchant, so I work with writing contracts and dealing with some of the legal language. It’s really important – even though sometimes it feels like we’re splitting hairs. It’s important to use proper and articulate language to state the terms clearly before the trade is made. For me, it was really interesting to see what goes into creating the rules and how much time it really takes to break down why our role is important or what can happen when a rule isn’t stated clearly. I learned that different peoples’ experiences from different backgrounds impact why things are written in a certain way. As a result, it’s important for people to get involved, because if somebody has a different background or they think that a rule shouldn’t be a certain way, it’s important to have your voice heard and to be involved in these committees and chime in. Mainly, my participation was with conference calls, but this committee does meet at the annual convention each March, so I was a part of the past two meetings.
“The trip to Washington, DC was a really awesome part of the program. It was meaningful to have the apprentices together and network that way.
“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to get out and see the opportunities in the industry and then take home what I learned and apply it in my job.”
Max Mobley | Grain Department Manager | Central Prairie Co-op | Sterling, KS
“Our CEO heard about the apprentice program and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to continue developing my skills and career.
“It was a really great experience to visit Washington, DC. We had a meeting at the White House with Ray Starling, who at the time was agriculture advisor for President Trump.
“In the program, I was on the Country Elevator Committee. I went to every available meeting during my apprenticeship. I was privileged that my company invested in me enough to experience so much. I was able to speak and listen and participate in the meetings, just like a regular committee member. I learned a lot in the process. There are a lot of different people in the room from different parts of the grain business, and I was able to hear their opinions and thoughts on different struggles within the industry or different political positions, as well as the difficulties of navigating regulations. You really can’t get those types of opinions from people so widespread across the United States and get them all in one room and hear all the different things that are going on anywhere else.
“Many people think they aren’t able to affect change, but through the NGFA, you have a voice. During the program, I probably met 10 to 12 senators and representatives, and I was able to speak with them about my concerns about the industry.
“I would urge anyone in the industry to apply for this program. I don’t see any negatives behind it. It was a great experience, and it certainly helped me learn and develop myself as an employee.”