November 24, 2020

MaxYield Cooperative Intern Spotlight: Zach Heikens

As a fourth-generation farmer from Lake Park, Zach Heikens, a 2020 MaxYield Agronomy intern is passionate about agriculture. “I’d like to stay in Iowa and run my family’s farm someday,” said Heikens, 20, who will be a junior at South Dakota State University (SDSU) this fall.

He’s open to learning all he can about all facets of agriculture. While he grew up on a row-crop farm, he works part-time on a cattle farm near Brookings, South Dakota. “I like to work outside and be hands-on,” Heikens said. “That’s why I was interested in MaxYield internship.”

What you’ll find here: Teamwork. “Everyone is on the same team and is working to provide the best solutions they can for MaxYield’s clients,” Heikens said. “I also like how they are organized and communicate well.”

What you won’t find here:  Boredom. “I didn’t want to do the same thing day after day,” said Heikens, who is interested in both agronomy and grain marketing. “You get a lot of variety with a MaxYield internship.”

How I’ve customized my MaxYield internship: Heikens wanted to learn more about agronomy and grow his network through his MaxYield internship. This summer he has delivered crop-protection products to clients, helped with soil sampling and more.

How I’m providing solutions at MaxYield: Heikens has helped his MaxYield team members find the right solutions to help MaxYield clients maximize their 2020 crop’s yield potential. “I like to watch the crops grow and see how everything progresses during the growing season,” Heikens said. “Farming is all about continuous improvement.”

What motivates me: The opportunity to learn and grow. While Heikens had a couple of other internship offers, he’s glad he chose MaxYield. “MaxYield has a good reputation as a good place to do an internship,” said Heikens, who connected with MaxYield at the SDSU ag career fair. “There are a lot of great people who work here who can teach you a lot.”


How my MaxYield internship is setting me up for success: A MaxYield internship builds on the solid foundation students like Heikens have already gained from work experience, FFA

involvement and/or extracurricular activities at college. Heikens is a former FFA member who competed in soil judging contests, mechanics contests and more in high school. He’s currently a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Club at SDSU. He enjoys the marketing competitions where students create a product and develop a marketing plan. His NAMA team recently created a powder-based aronia berry product that can be mixed in with smoothies and other foods as part of a healthy diet. All these activities offer practical, invaluable lessons, much like a MaxYield internship. “I like learning practical skills and seeing how you apply these in the real world,” Heikens siad. “MaxYield does a great job of offering these opportunities.”


Mason Mentink, MaxYield agronomy specialist and mentor for Zach Heikens:

“Zach is a hard worker who pays attention to detail and is eager to learn. He’s personable and is a pleasure to work with. His farm background helps him get along well with MaxYield’s clients. Zach is still deciding his career path. As his mentor, I’m trying to give him as broad a perspective as possible in agronomy and other areas.

I appreciate how the intern program benefits MaxYield as well as students. A number of former interns return to MaxYield for a second internship. Some come back as agronomy trainees. A number of former interns have become full-time team members who choose to grow their career with MaxYield.

I like seeing this and having these talented people join our team. Even if interns pursue career opportunities beyond MaxYield, the connections that are formed during these internships last. Zach is from the Lake Park area and so am I, and it’s great that we’ve formed a friendship.”


For more information on MaxYield’s internship program check out Applications for 2021 internships are live NOW!

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