December 13, 2018

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.

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