August 14, 2018

Dayton Brugman, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

In some ways, interning at MaxYield was like coming home for Dayton Brugman. Not only was he back in northwest Iowa close to his hometown, but his internship has allowed him to learn even more about local agriculture.

“I’ve grown up around MaxYield and heard about how good their internships are,” said Brugman, 19, a 2017 Clay Central Everly High School graduate who is studying ag business at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny. “I worked in Dickens at the chemical facility and at the seed warehouse in Spencer this spring. Treating seed and learning about the different types of seed really sparked my interest in agronomy.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a corn and soybean farm near Peterson, so ag has been part of my life from the beginning. I like it and try to stay connected to farming no matter where I’m at. In the fall, I work for a farmer near Ankeny and run the combine for him.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: I got an early start on my internship since I started here in March 2018. With a MaxYield internship you learn the foundations of agronomy from the roots up. I’ve learned a lot by participating in MaxYield’s plot days, where you learn from MaxYield’s team and speakers from WinField.

I was based out of Everly but had the chance to go all over MaxYield’s trade territory. I got into soil sampling, crop scouting and tissue sampling. While there’s a push on getting the work done, MaxYield always emphasizes learning. It’s not just busy work. The team is also fun to work with.

I’d definitely recommend a MaxYield internship. It’s so much different than writing answers on a test at college. It’s a lot easier to grasp these concepts in the field.

Q: How have you benefited by having Mason Mentink as your mentor at MaxYield?

A: Mason is very knowledgeable about agronomy. He’s always fun to talk to and is good with the clients. His ability to communicate with them is impressive because he knows how to adapt to different personalities. He knows what each client expects of MaxYield and works hard to serve them.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  After I graduate from DMACC, I plan to transfer to ISU in the fall of 2019. I’m undecided about what I want to do at ISU and in my career, but my MaxYield internship is helping me find out what interests me. I know I want to stay in Iowa after college. I’d like to come back to northwest Iowa, because I’m interested in production ag and running our family’s farm.

Editor’s note: Brugman appreciated the chance to have an internship close to home, since he raises show pigs. These pigs have won top honors at the Clay County Fair and have competed in shows including the Iowa State Fair, the World Pork Expo and the Arizona National in Phoenix. Raising pigs is a family affair for Brugman, his parents (Dan and Darcy), his younger brother, Davin, and his younger sister, Dalayna. In his free time, Brugman also enjoys watching sports, including the Minnesota Vikings, ISU men’s basketball and the Washington Capitals ice hockey team. He’s also a fan of the Stanley Cup finals.

Cody Tjossem, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

Cody Tjossem doesn’t settle for average. Instead of just one major, he decided to pursue two majors at ISU.

“I looked into accounting but decided that was kind of boring,” said Tjossem, 19, a sophomore who is majoring in ag business and supply chain management. “I was more interested in business and chose supply chain management because I like how it’s focused on doing things as efficiently as possible.”

When it was time to look for a summer internship, this ambitious, 2017 South O’Brien High School graduate was already familiar with MaxYield. “My brother, Brian, used to be an applicator for MaxYield, and he always had great things to say about the company,” said Tjossem, who visited with the MaxYield team at the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Day.

The more he learned about MaxYield, the more he liked the internship program and MaxYield’s core values. “Going into this, I wanted to be able to say I worked hard and got lots of experience here,” Tjossem said. “It’s important to get involved as much as you can, especially leadership positions, and get a lot of life experience.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: My parents, Vernon and De Ann Tjossem, farm near Sutherland and Royal and raise corn and soybeans. I like growing things and enjoy making new things. That’s what a lot of farming is. You put a seed in the ground and see if you can grow it into a good yield.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: While it’s hard to stay busy at some agronomy internships, there’s lots of hands-on training in the field at MaxYield. To actually be able to see and touch the things you’re learning about is great, because it’s nothing like just reading a textbook.

We do tissue sampling early in the week, soil sampling and crop scouting. I also want to learn more about machinery and equipment, and you need a strong base in agronomy to make the most of technology. MaxYield’s team members are always willing to help me learn.

I know the work we’re doing matters because MaxYield’s clients want us to help them learn how to grow better crops.

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

A: Brian is very personable and has introduced me to clients and the various MaxYield team members in the area. This made me feel welcome at MaxYield. I’ve also appreciated all the hands-on experience Megan has given me with tissue sampling and other projects. She’s a good teacher.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d prefer to stay in Iowa, but I’ll go where the jobs are.

 Editor’s note: Tjossem likes to be outside, spending time with family and friends, golfing and boating at the lake. He’s involved in ISU’s Ag Business Club, which invites guest speakers to campus to share their stories of business ownership and offer tips on how to succeed in business.

Jason Hinkeldey, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

When he was looking for a summer internship, Jason Hinkeldey didn’t have to look too far from home.

“MaxYield has a good reputation,” said Hinkeldey, 19, a sophomore at South Dakota State University who is majoring in ag business with a minor in agronomy and agricultural marketing.

He became even more confident after he watched YouTube videos of previous MaxYield interns and read their stories. “I knew I’d learn a lot with a MaxYield internship.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a row-crop farm near Alta, Iowa, and want to go into production agriculture.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: It has been quite a trying year due to the weather, but that has also helped me learn a lot about agronomy. My goal for my MaxYield internship has been to gain more knowledge about variable-rate planting and precision ag. I enjoyed going to MaxYield’s test plot near Algona, where we learned about hybrid selection, crop growth staging, weed identification and nutrient deficiencies in plants. Dan Bjorkland, MaxYield’s seed team leader, is a wealth of knowledge.

I learn best with hands-on experiences, because I retain more information that way. I’ve also liked getting to know the MaxYield team. They’re ready to lend a helping hand whenever you need it.

Q: How have you benefited by having Amanda Pederson and Chris Warren as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Amanda is very knowledgeable and has taught me a lot about crop disease identification and modes of action with various crop protection products. I’ve also worked with Chris Warren with SciMax Solutions, who has taught me a lot about variable-rate technology and precision planting.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’m a fifth-generation farmer and want to return home to farm full-time.

Editor’s note: Hinkeldey enjoys watching sports and cheers for the Iowa State University Cyclones.

Tyler Hoffman, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

You just never know where you’ll come across a great opportunity. Just ask Tyler Hoffman.

“I want to learn more about the business side of ag,” said Hoffman, 21, a junior who is majoring in ag business with a minor in agronomy at ISU. “When my mom was at a women-in-ag seminar, she talked to someone from MaxYield who encouraged me to meet with Chad Meyer at ISU’s ag career day last fall.”

Hoffman, who grew up on a farm near Graettinger, started asking his buddies what they knew about MaxYield. He checked in with Costas Hatzipavlides, a fellow ISU student who completed a soil sampling/crop scouting internship in 2017 at MaxYield.

“Costas has a lot of good things to say about MaxYield, so I decided I wanted to intern here, too,” Hoffman said.

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I’ve been around ag my whole life. My parents, Duane and Kimberly, raise corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs near Graettinger. I also like working with growers. I can relate to them, since I grew up on a farm.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: I wanted to become more comfortable talking to growers and have intelligent conversations with them about their unique needs and solutions for their acres. It has helped a lot to learn the basics from soil sampling to crop scouting. This gives me the chance to talk to farmers about everything from switching maturity dates on corn to deciding what needs to be sprayed.

I also like visiting MaxYield’s test plots, where we discuss a lot of different agronomy topics. I learn new things and bounce ideas off my dad.  I’ve learned a lot more this summer through my MaxYield internship than I have in some of my ag classes at college. I appreciate this internship, because it’s hands-on. That makes it a lot easier to grasp the information I’m learning.

Q: How have you benefited by having Levi Quayle and Matt Keel as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Levi is easy to talk to. I’ve learned a lot from him about weed identification and what crop protection products to use. I like working with Matt, too, because he’s also easy to talk to and is fun to be around.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d like to stay in Iowa and am open to opportunities. I’ve gotten more interested in the agronomy side of the business through this internship. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t have an interest in agronomy until they have a MaxYield internship. I’m just scratching the surface with what I’ve learned this summer and want to keep learning about agronomy.

Editor’s note: When Hoffman isn’t working or studying, he enjoys working out at the gym, watching Netflix and spending time with his family and friends.

Katie Decker, communications intern

If Katie Decker puts her mind to something, there’s no stopping her. When a friend needed someone to take his senior pictures in high school, Decker handled the job. Even though she was a junior in high school at the time, she did her homework, learned from professional photographers on YouTube and practiced—a lot.

Decker used this same approach when she was selecting an internship. “I was really determined to get an internship this summer,” said Decker, 20, of Rockwell City, who is an ISU sophomore majoring in ag communications. “I did a lot of homework about various companies before the ISU ag career fair. MaxYield stood out because it has such an established, clear-cut internship program.”

Even so, not everyone in Decker’s family thought this internship would be exceptional. “When my grandparents heard I’d be working for a co-op, they thought I’d probably have to run the scale and mow the lawn,” Decker said. “It’s not like that at all. It’s a continuous learning process and great leadership development opportunity here.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a farm near Rockwell City, where my family runs Farmers Best Popcorn. My great-grandfather started Farmers Best as a livestock feed business. My summer job was to go to stores and hand out samples of popcorn and stock the shelves. When I was on my own, I had to step up to the plate. I also found out I liked working in ag.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield communications internship?

A: I’m interested in photography and design, so my goals were to enhance my video production skills and learn from Greg Latza, the professional photographer who works with MaxYield. I also wanted to learn more about the cooperative system and discover how everything comes together to create a successful business.

While I knew about co-ops from growing up on a farm, I never realized how multi-faceted a co-op like MaxYield is. I was surprised by all the different jobs, including Patti Guenther’s role as education team leader.

I’ve liked the work setting here and the way MaxYield focuses on the team. I’ve enjoyed creating training and intern feature videos for MaxYield’s YouTube channel and have liked working on MaxYield’s tractor calendar.

I’ve also liked the field trips, including the chance to work with PSI Printing in Fort Dodge to discuss design ideas for MaxYield’s calendar. I’ve also visited the communications team at CHS in Inver Grove Heights, MN and Paulsen Marketing, the agency in Sioux Falls that designs MaxYield’s magazine.

Q: How have you benefited by having Chad Meyer as your mentor at MaxYield?

A: Chad has worked really hard to involve me in as many things as he can. He prioritizes my career goals around my internship goals.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d like to stay in Iowa, because I love it here. I’d also like a job that has a lot of variety every day. Since I’ve already started a photography business, I’ve seen how I can do what I love and live where I want to live, right here in rural Iowa.

Editor’s note: Decker, a former FFA member, is now a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) at ISU. During her second semester of college, she served as a secretary for Sen. Dan Zumbach, who chaired the Senate Ag Committee in the Iowa Senate. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time at Twin Lakes with her family, and her Golden Retriever, Snickers, and building her photography business.

Leah Bunkers, seed sales and agronomy intern

Sometimes it takes awhile for the right time to come along for a MaxYield internship, but the opportunity is worth it. Just ask Leah Bunkers.

“I talked to MaxYield about an internship a few years ago but already had another internship lined up,” said Bunkers, 22, a senior at South Dakota State University who is majoring in ag business and precision ag.

People kept telling her about MaxYield, though. She heard more about the company from Todd Meyer, a MaxYield board member from Everly. “I also heard from reliable sources outside the company, including our DEKALB® district sales manager. They told me MaxYield offers really good internships. I valued this unbiased input.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: My family owns a full-service, independent elevator, Bunkers Feed and Supply, in Granville, Iowa. My grandpa started this business 57 years ago, and I’ve grown up in agriculture. I work at my family’s business when I’m home.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: My goals for this internship were to gain more knowledge about identifying issues in the field, like nutrient deficiencies, insects, weeds and disease. I also want to learn more about crop protection product recommendations.

I was based out of Meservey and Belmond and worked out of the Garner location, too. I helped a lot in the seed warehouse since much of the spring and early summer was so rainy. I got to interact with clients when they picked up seed or we delivered seed to them.

Throughout the summer I also spent more time in the field. I helped collect tissue samples on Monday mornings, plus I’ve scouted fields and have pulled corn nematode samples.

I liked how every Monday afternoon we went to MaxYield’s learning plots at Algona and other locations. Dan Bjorklund, MaxYield’s seed team leader, and other MaxYield team members covered different topics each week. They explained the growth stages of corn and soybeans and talked about what was going on in the field right now. These learning opportunities have been really valuable.


Q: How have you benefited by having Cody Ostendorf and Jon Kaduce as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Cody is like a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He knows his stuff about agronomy, and he’s good at working with people. Jon is also very knowledgeable. He explains things in a way that’s easy to understand, and he’s very straightforward.


Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I want to stay in the Midwest. I like crops and enjoy the problem-solving aspect of figuring out what’s going on in the field so I can help the client address that challenge. I want a job where I interact with growers, because I’m not as interested in research or operations. My MaxYield internship is helping me get more clarity with my career goals. It’s also helping me decide whether I like working for a big company, a small company or something in between.

Editor’s note: Bunkers and her family enjoy spending time at Okoboji, and she also likes fishing. 

Colby Kraninger, seed/agronomy sales intern

Colby Kraninger is no stranger to MaxYield. While he was a seed/agronomy sales intern during the summer of 2018, he first started working with MaxYield for on-the-job training (OJT) in the grain department at the Fostoria location in the fall of 2014.

“It was a good experience, but I figured out I didn’t want to be a grain originator,” said Kraninger, 22, a senior at Iowa State University (ISU) majoring in agronomy.

During his second OJT, Kraninger worked at MaxYield’s Emmetsburg location and ran the dry fertilizer facility and the liquid fertilizer plant in Dickens. “I thought about being an applicator,” said Kraninger, who earned two associates degrees (one in ag sales and service, and one in ag operations and technology) from North Iowa Area Community College in December 2016.

Kraninger came back to MaxYield last summer to work at the chemical facility in Dickens and help with soil sampling. This summer, he decided to try something new. “I was a little intimidated by a sales internship but decided it would be a good experience.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I’ve been around farming my whole life. I grew up on an acreage by Okoboji. My brother, Dakota, who is in charge of seed treatments and MaxYield’s warehouse in Spencer, ran a baling operation with me all through high school. We baled small square bales, plus I worked for local farmers. I like the people in ag, and there’s always something new every day in farming.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield seed/agronomy sales internship?

A: Each experience I’ve had has helped me get one step close to the career I’d like to work in after college. I have my commercial driver’s license (CDL) and have delivered seed. I’ve also treated seed and helped my brother in the warehouse in Spencer. I’ve crop scouted, too. I like working with the MaxYield team, because I can ask questions and bounce ideas off them. I also like talking to the farmers who do business with MaxYield. I clock in at Milford, and there’s a lot of farmers in the coffee crowd there.

Q: How have you benefited by having Steve Schany and Tom Evans as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: I’m really comfortable with Steve, because he’s easy to talk to and easy to work with. Tom is a straightforward kind of guy who gives you a list of projects, and you get the work done. They don’t babysit you here and give you a lot of independence.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’ve figured out I wanted to be an agronomist. I’m coming back to MaxYield after graduating from ISU. I’ve worked with MaxYield long enough that I know a lot about the company. I’m comfortable with the people and the co-op system.

Editor’s note: Kraninger is the son of James and Lisa Kraninger. A 2014 graduate of Okoboji High School, Kraninger was active in his local FFA chapter, where he served as sentinel. He and his brother still run their custom baling operation. They also put in food plots for deer and upland game. A lifelong outdoorsman, Kraninger credits his father with teaching him how to fish. He enjoys fishing at Okoboji and the Webster Lake chain in east-central South Dakota. He spends his Christmas breaks ice fishing at Red Lake in northern Minnesota.

Ben Buie Named MaxYield Grain Team Leader

Ben Buie has been named to the position of Grain Team Leader for MaxYield Cooperative. The appointment was announced August 10 by Keith Heim, CEO for MaxYield Cooperative and will be effective December 31, 2018.

Buie will assume the position currently held by Harry Bormann, who recently announced his intention to retire from the company in December. Bormann has been with the cooperative since 1996.

Buie will be responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for MaxYield’s grain department and team. He will also be responsible for grain merchandising, risk management, procurement, grain inventory, plus the education and development of the grain team.

Bormann and Buie will work together over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. Buie will begin his duties at MaxYield mid-September, 2018.

“Ben comes to MaxYield with considerable experience in grain origination and merchandising numerous commodities, including corn and soybeans, across a diverse geographical area,” said Heim. “He also brings to MaxYield experience in grain operations and has provided leadership in a variety of grain facility upgrade projects throughout his career.”

Prior to joining MaxYield, Buie served as Grain Division Manager for ECI Cooperative, based in Cedar Falls, IA. His extensive grain industry career has included positions with J. D. Heiskell & Co. in Amarillo, TX, and Garvey Processing, Inc. in Portales, NM and St. Charles, IL.

He earned his Economics degree at the University of Illinois and his Masters of Business Administration at Eastern New Mexico University.

About MaxYield

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 24 locations and 3 Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for two Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at and

MaxYield Internships: What Are They All About?

Welcoming, fun environment, team oriented, like family, a great experience. These are just a few ways summer interns describe their experiences at MaxYield Cooperative. The internship program at MaxYield is to be commended for the hands-on experiences available to students, and the opportunities it opens for them. This summer, seven interns were hired in the areas of crop scouting and soil sampling, seed and agronomy sales, and communications and client relations. Each intern is assigned to one or two MaxYield team members who serve as their mentor throughout the internship. The mentorship program provides a look into the mentor’s job on a day-to-day basis, and the mentor’s role is to make sure the internship experience is unique to the student’s interests and goals.

The crop scout and soil sample internship at MaxYield is the perfect opportunity for students to learn the basics of agronomy. The crop scout and soil sample interns all agreed that a needed trait for the internship is a desire to work hard, but it doesn’t require a farm background. With the rainy weather this season, all of the interns spent quite a bit of time with their mentors learning about weed and pest identification. In the short spurts of dry weather, they were working hard taking grid soil samples. The soil samples are used for SciMax Solutions variable rate programs to determine where and how much fertilizer is needed in a particular field. Cody Tjossem expressed that he enjoyed that he stayed busy in his internship. Much of the work was very hand-on, and provided great learning experiences.

The seed and agronomy sales internship was also affected by the late spring and wet weather, but interns say it wasn’t necessarily a negative thing for them. Intern Leah Bunkers says she benefitted from the difficult weather because she didn’t miss out on the busy season that would’ve normally taken place before the start of the internship. She commented that these difficulties brought reality, and gave her a sense of what it would really be like to be in the business. Though it made for great learning experiences, the difficulties with weather gave the interns a taste of the stress that tough times put on farmers. Both of the seed and agronomy sales interns expressed the importance of keeping a positive attitude through these times, and always working hard to keep the client happy.

The communications and client relations internship is jam-packed with many different projects throughout the summer. A few of these include coordinating the antique tractor calendar, shooting and editing videos featuring MaxYield interns and team members, and creating marketing materials such as brochures and flyers. Intern Katie Decker added that her favorite part of the internship was job shadowing industry professionals and field trips to learn more about careers in the communications field. This internship is quite busy, but Katie commented that it’s important to effectively manage any down-time to plan ahead for projects. An intern in the communications and client relations position gains experience through practice in writing and editing. This internship is perfect for a student seeking to build their professional skills and define the areas of communication in which they would like to pursue moving forward.

Internships at MaxYield Cooperative stand out from others due to the real-world approach that encourages interns to think and act like full-time team members. The flexibility in creating an internship that is unique to each student allows interns to work with team members in various departments based on the types of things they’d like to learn more about. MaxYield truly lives out their motto, “We See More in Your Fields,” by viewing interns as the future, and investing in them to develop leaders in agriculture.


Tyler Hoffman: Soil Sample & Crop Scout Intern at MaxYield

Tyler Hoffman is not one to shy away from hard work. He’s definitely had to put this to the test this summer with short time frames to get the necessary work done as a soil sample/crop scout intern at MaxYield. From Graettinger, IA, Tyler grew up on a farm and will be a junior at Iowa State University majoring in agricultural business with a minor in agronomy. In his free time, Tyler enjoys watching Netflix, going to the gym and playing intramural sports at Iowa State.

Describe a typical day in your internship.

This year has been so different from most, so it has allowed me to do a greater variety of things within my internship than an intern might do on any other given year. When the weather is dry I’m out taking soil samples. During the wet weather this year I’ve been with my mentors, Matt Keel and Levi Quayle, doing things like crop scouting, checking weed pressure, talking to clients, and learning more about the seed sales side of the business.

What have you enjoyed about your internship?

I love being outside, and my soil sampling and crop scouting internship has allowed me to do that, weather permitting. I also enjoy talking with MaxYield clients, so when it’s too wet to soil sample I’ve enjoyed traveling with my mentors to meet with clients.

Would you recommend this internship to other students?

I would recommend the soil sampling/crop scouting internship to students looking for an internship that will give them a good foundation for a start in the agronomy field, or really any agriculture-related career.