February 27, 2021

Alec Berntson, soil sampler/crop scout intern

Although Alec Berntson is from West Des Moines, don’t let that fool you. He’s a farm kid at heart.

“Traffic in the city drives me nuts,” said Berntson, 21, a 2014 West Des Moines Valley High School graduate who is an Iowa State University (ISU) senior majoring in ag business and minoring in agronomy. “My dad farms near Paullina, and I’ve always liked spending time up here.”

He appreciates the friendliness of the people he’s met, the rural lifestyle, and the warm welcome he received at MaxYield Cooperative this summer. “The people here are great. They take the time to get to know you and make you feel like part of the team.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: When I was younger I didn’t know the direction I wanted to take. When I went to college I decided agriculture would be a good choice. Feeding America is an honorable job. I got a job at a local co-op during my sophomore year of college. I’m interested in learning more about co-ops, because they provide solutions for farmers.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield soil sampling/crop scouting internship?

A: I’ve compared notes with interns who have worked at other co-ops, and MaxYield has the premiere internship. The MaxYield team does a great job of helping us learn, and you never feel like you’re just an intern. MaxYield offers weekly agronomy education sessions. Some are held at MaxYield’s learning center by Irvington, where we learn what to look for as we scout clients’ fields. It’s crop scene investigation (CSI), like MaxYield seed team leader Dan Bjorklund says, and there’s always a new challenge. It’s great to get first-hand experience with the things we’re learning in class.

Q: How have you benefited by having Eric Magnussen and Brian Cable as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Having a couple of different mentors gives you different perspectives. They show you how to do the hands-on skills like stand counts and what to look for when scouting fields. Eric farms part-time near Paullina and is an upbeat, down-to-earth guy who’s really easy to talk to. Brian is also friendly, easy to get along with and helps you learn about agronomy.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’m interested in agronomy and am pretty wide open to where my career takes me. I would recommend a MaxYield internship, because this is a big organization that gives you lots of opportunities. There’s a reason why MaxYield has been voted a top workplace in Iowa. They take care of their clients and team members.

Editor’s note: Alec’s father, Gene, farms in northwest Iowa. Alec is a member of the Ag Business Club at ISU and works part-time as a bouncer in Campustown in Ames. In his free time, Alec enjoys playing intramural basketball, flag football and ice hockey. An avid snowboarder, Alec is also a member of ISU’s Ski and Snowboard Club and enjoys ski trips to Breckenridge, Colorado.



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