Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Grain Elevator Experience

If I told you I was interning for Cargill at a grain elevator, what would you think I did on an average day? Would you think I worked on conveyor belts and cleaned out boot pits? Would you think I greased the rollers? Actually, I haven't done any of those things yet, but reading this post will show you some things I have done up to this point.

During my first few weeks at Cargill, I have: flown a drone, swept pits after trucks dump their load, learned to drive a bobcat to clean up spilled grain, grading trucks, helping clean out a bin, and so much more.

One of my favorite experiences up to this point was helping load a barge. Being from Central Illinois, I had only seen barges as I was crossing over the Mississippi River. When I actually stood by the barge, I couldn't believe how large it actually was. The barge we are loading in the picture above was a rake barge and held almost 65,000 bushels of beans. To put this in reference of semi trucks, that would be 65 loads! As I stood there watching line boats pass, I realized how vital the Mississippi River was to the transport of goods. 

Working in West Memphis, AR has been an adjustment for me coming from living in a town of 1,300 people. While I work in Arkansas, I live in Memphis, TN. Moving to a large city from my rural small town was scary, but it made me grow as a person. Even though I reside in the city I pass rice fields, cows, and horses on my way to and from work.   

The picture of the elevator was taken with the drone at work. My boss has a project scheduled for me with the drone if I have enough time. In the future weeks, I have a lot of traveling ahead of me! Sam, my boss, would like me to travel to the facilities in Hickman, KY and East Saint Louis, IL. I also have an intern forum in Minneapolis, MN at the end of June. The last adventure will be traveling to the facility in Tuscola, IL to help load rails cars.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Alicia Kabat, ITCS Student CDE Coordinator
Spring fever is in swing—warm weather, plants in full bloom, and Illinois high school agricultural education students gearing up for the biggest day of the year. On the last Saturday of April, around 1,200 prospective U of I students from across Illinois attended Career Development Events held here on campus. From metro Chicago to every corner of countryside, students converged for a packed day of learning opportunities, friendly encounters, and experiences they will never forget.

I began the spring semester as the Student CDE coordinator intern with ITCS to further my experience. Since day one, high expectations were placed upon me and have been life changing for my upcoming career as an agricultural education teacher. My main duty was to prepare for the state
Horticulture/Landscaping CDE, where 250 students would compete to demonstrate their knowledge. My semester’s adventures took me from creating and revising many products for the CDE to coordinating with faculty and staff across the College of ACES and the State FFA Center. I learned that communication is key! Many emails and meetings have taken place throughout the preparation process. With the wonderful support system throughout the Educational Publishing team as I prepared for the CDE, tasks were easy to complete.
The skills and knowledge I learned in my internship as the Student CDE Coordinator will greatly affect the readiness I will feel as an agricultural education teacher. I now know what is needed and how to do it, and what the final product of a Career Development Event that I coordinated feels like.

The University of Illinois has created this opportunity for me to explore education in a way that I never experienced before. The College of ACES has moved me closer to the type of educator I want to be. There’s nothing comparable to the experience I have had as an intern in Information Technology and Communications Services.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Agricultural Policy - Opportunities Galore!

Government is a terrible thing for many people - including my friends and family back home. I did not grow up in a home interested in politics. I'm sure if you asked my Dad his own opinion of government, he'd saying something to the effect of "they just take all my money!" or "that's where my taxes go!". Before this summer, I would say I was indifferent. I didn't know what to think, but what's important is that I kept an open-mind and I was ready to learn.

Working for the Office of Congressman Rodney Davis this past summer was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I can honestly say that my faith in the men and women who govern our country is strong. Those people are working hard, doing what they believe is right, and most of them are the perfect people for the job they do.

For those of you who do not know, your personal Congressman represents around 750,000 people in your area of the nation. He/she probably has around 10 professional staff working in Washington, DC and many more working on particular issues/areas in the congressional district at various locations. All of them are there to serve you! So the next time you have an opinion, question or comment to share - call them! Your comments will be heard, and they do matter when the Congressmen makes his/her voting decisions.

Illinois' 13th Congressional District - approx. 750,000 people!

My own experiences working included many mundane office tasks such as answering phone calls and responding to emails and letters. I also gave various U.S. Capitol tours and hosted different office visitors, engaging in small talk and the occasional corny joke. While these items were important in demonstrating my commitment to the office and my passion to be successful, I truly shined when given tasks or projects in my primary area of interest - agriculture.

I worked on several short-term agricultural projects such as organizing briefing materials for agriculture committee hearings and writing letters to constituents about agricultural issues. My large agricultural project, which was perhaps the most important experience of the summer, consisted of doing a full legislative analysis of Title VII (Research) of the 2014 Farm Bill. This section of the bill pertains to the land-grant university system (i.e., UIUC), agricultural experiment stations, and many other forms of public and private research. I analyzed this legislation to help prepare to plan for the next farm bill anticipated in 2018.

Living in D.C. was completely opposite of my hometown experience in Northern Illinois, but it was something I valued and found comfort in. I appreciated the hustle, the new friendships, and the variety of events/activities going on every day!

I loved working with my fellow interns in the office. They were so great to meet, and I think I walked away with some great new contacts and a few new friends!

I was told before departing for Washington that I would either love it or hate it. I would say I loved it! I hope I can go back and continue to work in agricultural policy. While politics is not always a favored or publicly-adorned career path, it is the way we as citizens impact our own governance. Agriculture and rural-America need a strong, strategic voice in Washington, and I would like to be that for them.

Don't forget to go vote on November 8th! Your voice matters, and voting is essential to representative government.

Marching Off the Map

This summer was full of firsts for me  - my first long-term stay outside of Illinois, first job working full-time hours, first time making an hour long commute (thanks to Atlanta traffic), and of course my first meal from Chick-fil-A. You could say, I was personally "marching off the map" - a phrase I learned from Dr. Tim Elmore, the founder, and president of Growing Leaders.

Welcome to the office!

Growing Leaders, for the first time, had an Event Planning Intern this summer. I was lucky enough to fill this position, and I enjoyed every moment of it. To give you some background on the organization, Growing Leaders is a non-profit that focuses on leadership training and development. Through engaging events and resources, Growing Leaders equips the next generation with real-life leadership skills.

 Growing Leaders serves schools, universities, sports teams, businesses, churches and more. The overarching goal of Growing Leaders is to equip one percent of the world’s youth population (25 and under) to be leaders.  This one percent amounts to about 30 million students!

Habitudes curriculum for sale at NLF
Although Growing Leaders produces a variety of resources, the most recognized is certainly the Habitudes curriculum. Habitudes uses memorable images to teach leadership habits and attitudes. The curriculum has been utilized by over 8,000 organizations worldwide.

Now, that you have a bit of background, it's much simpler for me to explain my role with Growing Leaders this summer. To start off I was given a variety of tasks such as editing Habitudes keynotes, analyzing data on world youth populations, and making phone calls to invite people to come to the National Leadership Forum. 

The main NLF ballroom
The National Leadership Forum was, by far, the biggest event of the summer. The forum is an annual two-day conference in June that provides a research-based discussion on how to effectively lead today’s students. Although I was working for most of the conference, I did get to sit in and listen to some of the speakers. As a future educator, I found myself energized by not only the presenters, but the enthusiastic teachers, coaches, and other mentors in the room.

In addition to NLF, I was able to join both Dr. Elmore and Vice President of Growing Leaders, Holly Moore for some of their other speaking engagements in the Atlanta area. At these events, I helped with details such as tech set up and merchandise sales.  These trips are some of my best memories from the internship because I was able to see both students or mentors excited to better the millennial generation, and those that will follow us.

My overall favorite part of my internship was working with the Growing Leaders team members.This summer I had the chance to work alongside passionate leaders, many of whom are millennials, that are incredibly driven to equip the next generation with leadership skills. Through this experience, I gained a new perspective on myself, my age group and our world as a whole. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in growing themselves both personally and professionally. Growing Leaders is a one of a kind organization that will show you what it means to "march off the map."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sell Me This Pen

On an average day, how many times do you think you try to sell something? Whether that is your credibility, a product, or even something as simple as a pen? Well, this summer, I had the grueling honor and task to sell advertising through a collegiate company based from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

For ten days at the beginning of summer, I traveled to the beautiful campus of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and went through the company's sales training program known as "Sales Foundation Academy" where my title was a Sales Team Leader. I attended a leadership training session for 3 days before the sales representatives arrived to learn sales training. Once they arrived, I met the rest of my team, which consisted of UIUC students interested in cold sales. This 10 day training was the hardest, most worth-while experience of my life.

After returning back to the UIUC campus, I was in charge of holding daily and evening meetings with my team as we strived to hit a sales goal for our university. We were to go on 32 cold sales calls a day and sell advertising space in a university planner, as well as endorsing a collegiate food app known as UConnection.

This summer, as a team, we set a regional standard as the number one team selling over $60,000 in advertising for the local collegiate area. In our region were schools such as, Notre Dame University, Saint Louis University, Ball State University, Illinois State University, Purdue University and many more.

Overall, I learned this summer a seriously important life lesson. Working in or with sales is a brutal, unique experience that every single person needs to have in my opinion. I stepped out of my "ag" comfort zone this summer and jumped into a entirely different world. I learned who I want to be and where I want to go in life; something I hope everyone gets to experience someday as well!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

ASPCA: Animal Poison Control Center

June 24th is national bring your pet to work day. At the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, it’s always bring your pet to work day. We’re allowed to bring our pets into the office while we work so they don’t have to sit at home alone all day. I feel like this is why many of the people in the office are happy to come in and are able to deal with the everyday calls we get, which are a whole other story themselves.
Last week marked our 406th hour at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Our” is referring to myself and Opie, who you can see in the picture with me. A couple weeks into my internship this little guy decided to come live with me, therefore is the intern pup at the APCC by default. During the internship I worked on updating protocol binders, finding information on ant bait traps to see if we could use it to increase the dose for more people to deal with, researching different kinds of fish oils and their ingredients, and mainly helping one of the DVMs on intralipid research so she can write research papers on Intarlipid Emulsion Therapy (ILE).

I started with over 5,000 cases to go through and slowly dwindled it down to just over 350 useable cases for the research papers. I presented my findings to the rest of the staff in the office during staff rounds and I will be presenting it again to the DVM’s in the office. It’s taken a lot of time and effort, finding that this therapy has helped a majority of the cases surely makes it worth it. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pig Adventures

Waking up at 4:00 am for your job everyday? Tiring. Working inside a barn all day? Smelly. Getting to work with pigs everyday? Worth it.

Hello, my name is Logan Honegger and I am now a senior at UIUC. This summer I got the chance to work out of state at a 10,000 sow pig farm in rural Indiana. Coming from a background of showing pigs, I thought I knew everything there was to know about raising hogs. But after spending 7 weeks on a huge commercial farm, it's easy to say I learned a lot. 

During my time at Martin Family Farms, or MP3 Farms, I got to visit and work in every aspect of the farm. The other interns and myself started out working in the farrowing barns. We got to spend time doing chores, feeding sows, helping sows give birth and drying off baby pigs. We also got to spend time in the breeding barns where we learned to breed sows and how the farms' record keeping system worked. 
The main purpose for the interns this summer was to complete a herd census. The other interns and I took a week and a half scanning each individual sow into a software system. This was later analyzed by managers for errors in their systems. Errors could have been a wrong ID tag on the sow or a sow that was in the system. The best part of my internship was getting to go to World Pork Expo for a week and promote a neighboring farm that has an educational center. Myself and another intern got to spend the week talking to businesses in the pork industry and getting to network.