February 25, 2021

Excellence Attracts Opportunities: Students Make the Most of Their Summer Work Experience

Left to right: Roman Fahnlander, Blake Wilson, Sydney Kalkman, Aaron Montag, Tory Schmidt.

Left to right: Roman Fahnlander, Blake Wilson, Sydney Kalkman, Aaron Montag, Tory Schmidt.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting a tomato in a fruit salad.

Humorous, yet practical, right? Practical, real-world wisdom is a key benefit for the talented students who gain summer work experience at MaxYield Cooperative. This creates a win-win for the students, who gain valuable training, and for MaxYield, which benefits from this year-round recruiting strategy.

“Be ready to go on day one,” said Blake Wilson, 19, whose mentors included members of the SciMax Solutions team. “Work hard, and know that you can play an important role in the solutions MaxYield provides for clients.”

When we asked Wilson and other college students to tell us more about their summer work experiences, they had plenty of other interesting insights about what it’s like to be part of the MaxYield team.

• Blake Wilson, agronomy/outside operations/SciMax. Although Wilson is a 2013 graduate of Johnston High School, his family has farmed near Corwith for many years. This planted a seed that grew into an interest in agriculture, said Wilson, who connected with MaxYield during a career fair at Iowa State University (ISU). Working with SciMax was especially appealing to
Wilson, a sophomore who is majoring in ag systems technology, with an emphasis on machine systems operation, industrial technology/manufacturing, and soil science. During his job this summer, Wilson worked in MaxYield’s east territory, where he helped with soil sampling so the SciMax team could write prescriptions for clients. “I saw the process from start to finish and really enjoyed working with the SciMax specialists. They are very down-to-earth, personable people who help you learn a lot about agronomy and soil science.” After completing his degree, Wilson would like to stay in the Midwest and work for companies that take farm equipment concepts from prototypes to mass production. His summer work experience at MaxYield was well worth the effort, he added. “You get out of it what you put in.”

• Sydney Kalkman/office assistant. After graduating from Emmetsburg High School in 2013, Kalkman headed to Argosy University in Eagan, MN, where she is training to become a dental hygienist. While she had no idea what a “chem shed” was when she was hired for a summer job at MaxYield, Kalkman has learned a lot about agriculture in just a few short months. “I’d never worked for a cooperative before, but I’ve loved learning more about the industry.” Kalkman, 19, worked as an office assistant at MaxYield’s corporate office in West Bend, where she assisted with billing, purchase orders, and other accounting duties. She also worked at various MaxYield location offices, where she helped run the scale. “Going to the top of the elevator in West Bend was a cool experience,” said Kalkman, who enjoyed getting to know members of the MaxYield team. “I like how everyone works together, and team members know our clients by name. MaxYield made me feel welcome, and I felt like I was part of the family.”

• Tory Schmidt, electrician in training. Tory is no stranger to MaxYield, since he worked here last summer and during the Christmas 2013 break. All this training, combined with his recent summer work experience, has given him a big jump on his education at Northwest Iowa Community College (NICC) in Sheldon, where he is training to become an electrician. “Working at MaxYield has helped me learn a lot, plus it’s fun,” said Schmidt, a 2013 graduate of West Bend-Mallard High School. He has worked with Frank Schmidt, MaxYield’s maintenance electrician, and team member Joe Elbert to handle a variety of jobs, from working on grain bin sensors to other electrical systems. “I go all over MaxYield, working on anything with wires connected to it,” said Schmidt, who will graduate from NICC in December of 2015, after completing some additional electrical technology programming courses. It’s also interesting to watch the major construction projects take shape and learn how the MaxYield team works with the contractors, said Schmidt, who sometimes puts in 45 to 50 hours a week. “You’re not just a monkey stringing conduit,” added Schmidt, who appreciates the opportunity to work with MaxYield. “You learn a lot about troubleshooting and gain hands-on, practical experience.”

• Roman Fahnlander, millwright. Hands-on, practical work experience is also important to Fahnlander, who is studying wind energy and turbine technology at Iowa Lakes Community College. MaxYield’s millwright team has offered a good fit for Fahnlander, who grew up on a farm near Royal and was interested in learning more about operations at local grain elevators.
“I’ve helped with everything from routine maintenance to repairs,” said Fahnlander, who helped replace conveyors, gained welding experience, and enjoyed learning more about motors and electrical wiring. Since he’s not afraid of heights, Fahnlander had no problem working from a basket on a crane. “MaxYield is a friendly, safe working environment,” added Fahnlander, who would like to be based in Iowa after he graduates from college in May of 2015. “I got a lot out of my summer work experience, because the MaxYield team is very knowledgeable and easy to work with.”

• Aaron Montag, agronomy/outside operations/grain. Montag had such a positive experience working at MaxYield’s Whittemore location in the summer of 2013 that he returned this summer to expand his skills. “I’ve done a little bit of everything and have learned a lot,” said Montag, 19, who has assisted with soil sampling, operating the grain elevator, loading trains, and helping the team at the tire shop in West Bend. “It’s something different every day, which keeps things interesting.” A 2013 graduate of West Bend-Mallard High School, Montag is currently studying agriculture at Iowa Lakes Community College before he transfers to Iowa State University. While ag education and agronomy interest Montag, who grew up on a farm near West Bend, the grain industry is also appealing. Montag has learned a lot from his older brother, Mitch, who works as a grain merchandiser, and another older brother, Chris, who works at MaxYield’s West Bend location office. Montag also credits other MaxYield team members with helping him discover the many career opportunities in agriculture. “Everyone has been willing to help me and
answer my questions,” said Montag, who looks forward to his SciMax Solutions/precision ag internship this fall. “I’d definitely recommend MaxYield to others.”


Share Your Thoughts