September 30, 2020

MaxYield Cooperative Intern Spotlight: Luke McKibben

While Luke McKibben grew up in Marshalltown, he was never far from agriculture. “My great-uncle farms near Marshalltown, and I liked riding in the combine when I was growing up,” said McKibben, 19, who will be a sophomore at Iowa State University (ISU) this fall.

Not only did McKibben grow up working on local farms, but he saw another side of agriculture when his older brother majored in ag business at ISU. During McKibben’s freshman year at ISU, he, too, selected an ag business major. He also got involved with the Ag Business Club’s Ag Alliance on campus.

Each Ag Alliance member is matched with a mentor in the ag industry. McKibben was matched with Chad Meyer, who handles client relations and communications for MaxYield. “I’d never heard of MaxYield before this,” McKibben said. “The more I learned about the co-op from Chad, the more I was interested.”

When he had the chance to interview for a MaxYield internship, he jumped at the chance. “It seemed like the kind of place that fits my goals. MaxYield is all about providing solutions for clients, not just selling stuff.”

What you’ll find here: Opportunities to expand your horizons. Soil types in north-central and northwest Iowa, compared to central Iowa. There also tend to be more rocks. The organic acres in parts of MaxYield’s trade territory also surprised McKibben. “While I was a little hesitant about moving a few hours away from home, this agronomy internship has been a good experience,” McKibben added. “Everyone is very friendly up here, plus you get to know the other MaxYield interns. Living with Cayden Buysse, who is also a MaxYield intern this summer, has given me another friend.”

What you won’t find here: A cut-throat business environment where it’s every person for themselves. “MaxYield is definitely team-oriented,” McKibben said. “Everyone on the team is willing to help you learn.”

How I’ve customized my MaxYield internship: McKibben has been able to learn more about the cooperative system, which he has enjoyed. “I worked at New Century FS in 2019 and wanted to work at another co-op at my next internship. I like the co-op, because it’s one big partnership. It’s people coming together for the common good. The farmers have a lot invested in the business, and I want to help them.”

How I’m providing solutions at MaxYield: On Mondays McKibben go to the field to pull samples for tissue tests. Each week he and his fellow agronomy interns also have at least one mentor day that they spend with a MaxYield agronomist. He has also done a lot of soil sampling. “You can either take your five soil probes and think it’s boring, or you can turn soil sampling into a good experience, if you ask questions and try to learn all you can,” McKibben said. “Any job is what you make of it.” He learned that at his first paid job when he worked at a country club washing golf carts. “That taught me the value of a dollar and the importance of a work ethic. That work ethic makes a positive difference at MaxYield.”

What motivates me: “I definitely wanted to learn more about the agronomy side, since I’m an ag business major,” McKibben said. “I also want to work one-on-one with farmers.” Having a mentor like Shelby Knapp makes all this easier. “Shelby has been phenomenal,” McKibben said. “She’s always available to meet with you. She also does a great job of explaining things thoroughly, which has helped me learn a lot.”

 

How my MaxYield internship is setting me up for success: McKibben’s MaxYield internship has shown him how much he likes working directly with farmers. “Farmers are honest, direct, hard-working people who are the backbone of America,” McKibben said. “MaxYield does a good job of taking care of these clients.” Learning the fine arts of communication and seeing how MaxYield agronomists built productive, working relationships with their clients has been invaluable, McKibben added. “Shelby has shown me how to handle anything that comes along, including handles tricky situations where you want to keep building the relationship with the client. You don’t learn this in a classroom.”

Growing an ag career in Iowa appeals to McKibben, who enjoys deer hunting, pheasant hunting, fishing and being involved with the SALT Christian ministry in Ames. “I really love the Midwest,” he said. “I’ve traveled all over America, and the people here are much friendlier than on the coasts. I’m definitely thankful to be in Iowa and here at MaxYield.”

Shelby Knapp, MaxYield agronomy specialist and mentor for Luke McKibben:

Luke is observant and curious, two traits that make for a good agronomist. He’s constantly asking me questions about everything, which is great. Luke also has a really strong work ethic and always wants to be doing something. He has a great personality, and I think he will do extremely well, wherever his career path takes him. He’s definitely one of the best interns I’ve worked with.

When I work with any intern, I want to give them the best experience possible at MaxYield. I want to help them to learn all they can and encourage them to ask plenty of questions so can determine for themselves if this is the career path they want to take.

When I was an agronomy sales intern at MaxYield in the summer of 2016, I had a great experience overall. I enjoyed the people I worked with. My mentor, Dan Stokes, was awesome. MaxYield’s sales team has some really good people who are really motivated and driven. They inspired me as an intern and still inspire me now to work hard and improve every day. I want to create these same opportunities for the interns I work with.

MaxYield’s interns certainly help us get a lot of work done in the summer, from soil sampling to crop scouting and everything in between. Many of MaxYield’s past interns have gone on to do great things, from returning to MaxYield to succeeding at other agriculture companies. It’s fun to watch them grow their ag careers.

For more information on MaxYield’s internship program check out www.maxyieldcooperative.com/internships. Applications for 2021 internships are live NOW!

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