December 1, 2020

Trainees to Team Members: New Graduates Grow Their Ag Careers with MaxYield

A business expert on WHO Radio recently said there are two things you don’t tell a millennial, including “you’re too young” and “that’s not how things are done around here.”

After all, this generation is hardwired to embrace technology and find better ways of doing things. That’s why MaxYield Cooperative takes a unique approach with our trainee programs. As our team members work with these young adults, we view ourselves as coaches, not managers. We invest in our trainees. Most importantly, we inspire them to become their best.

Just ask Alex Tussing, MaxYield’s agronomy specialist trainee; Tory Schmidt, who worked for MaxYield part-time before becoming a full-time electrical technician; and Dakota Kraninger, whose on-the-job training led to a full-time outside operations career with MaxYield.

alex tussing (1024x681)Alex Tussing, agronomy specialist trainee
When Alex Tussing graduated from Ankeny High School in 2012, she was one of only a couple students from her class of 530 students who planned to pursue a career in agriculture.

“I was really excited to get back to northwest Iowa with MaxYield,” said Tussing, who graduated from Iowa State University in May 2016 with an ag studies degree and agronomy minor. “Most of my family is from this area, my grandparents farmed near Laurens, and I spent a lot of time with them as I was growing up.”

While Tussing wasn’t sure exactly what career path she wanted to pursue, she appreciates her role as a MaxYield agronomy trainee. The job offers a defined, 12-month learning schedule with plenty of job shadowing. “Instead of just throwing me in the role of an agronomist, the trainee program helps me learn and prepares me to succeed,” Tussing said.

MaxYield agronomy specialists Nolan Hauge in Dickens and Amanda Pederson in Algona help Tussing develop her skills. “Nolan has grown the business quickly in his area,” Tussing said. “Amanda is very knowledgeable and is a good teacher. The two are a really good combination for me, because they show me different ways to be successful.”

Tussing has been busy learning the corn hybrids and soybean varieties sold by MaxYield, as well as the numerous crop protection products offered by the cooperative. As part of this, she documents the crop’s progress at MaxYield’s test plot near Emmetsburg. She also helps answer clients’ agronomy questions, from sprayer issues to hail damage.

“I go with Nolan and Amanda on client calls and am getting to know a lot of the growers,” Tussing said. “I like working with farmers, because I enjoy helping solve their challenges.”

Since there’s always something new in agriculture every day, Tussing appreciates how MaxYield team members help her learn. “The agronomy trainee job is a lot to take in at first, but everyone is willing to help you. I also like MaxYield’s progressive culture, which isn’t stuck in the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ mindset.”

Tussing looks forward to growing her client base in the Dickens area. She’s also excited to correct misinformation and help her non-farm friends learn the facts about agriculture as she learns at MaxYield. “I know I made the right choice to become a MaxYield agronomy trainee,” Tussing said. “It’s an exciting opportunity.”

Editor’s note: In her free time, Tussing likes to go boating, spend time with her family and paint vintage furniture.

tory schmidt (1024x681)Tory Schmidt, electrical technician
Tory Schmidt was well acquainted with MaxYield by the time he took a full-time job as an electrical technician for the cooperative in January 2016. He began working with the MaxYield maintenance team part-time in the summer of 2013 and again during the Christmas 2013 break. He came back in 2014 as he completed his electrician education at Northwest Iowa Community College (NWICC) in Sheldon.

“Working at MaxYield helped me learn a lot about electrical troubleshooting and gave me hands-on, practical experience,” said Schmidt, a 2013 graduate of West Bend-Mallard High School. “I went all over MaxYield, working on anything with wires connected to it.”

Schmidt enjoyed working with Frank Schmidt, MaxYield’s maintenance electrician, and long-time team member Joe Elbert on a variety of jobs. “No two days are ever alike,” said Schmidt, who noted that Frank Schmidt encouraged him to get additional training in electrical technology programming. “I followed Frank’s advice and took some more semesters at NWICC to learn about computer programming, microcontrollers and PLC technology to better understand today’s complex electrical systems,” he said.

Schmidt was eager to start his career at MaxYield after graduating from NWICC at the end of 2015. “I like the variety of work at MaxYield. It’s not just installing light bulbs. It might be working with the IT department, dealing with touch-screen technology or hanging sensors in grain bins.”

Schmidt also likes living in small-town Iowa and appreciates his MaxYield team members. “I really enjoy the maintenance team, because they work well together and are very helpful as they answer my questions.”

They’ve also taught Schmidt how to be a solutions provider. “You solve problems by diving in and eating the elephant one bite at a time,” he noted. “My team has shown me you can have a long-term career here, with many opportunities to grow and learn.”

Editor’s note: In his free time, Schmidt enjoys hunting, fishing and working on vehicles.

dakota kraninger (681x1024)Dakota Kraninger, outside operations
While Dakota Kraninger wanted the chance to farm, working with farmers has been the next best thing. His on-the-job training (OJT) through Iowa Lakes Community College helped him transition successfully to a full-time career at MaxYield.

“I’ve always liked agriculture and grew up working on local farms and participating in FFA and 4-H,” said Kraninger, who completed two OJT sessions with MaxYield before becoming a full-time outside operations team member in August 2015. “It was awesome to transition from OJT to a full-time job at MaxYield.”

In the spring of 2014, the ag business major worked at MaxYield’s Emmetsburg location, where he assisted with fertilizer and seed, in addition to helping at the Spencer seed warehouse. In the spring of 2015, he did most of his OJT at the Spencer seed warehouse. “I’m glad to work with MaxYield, because they have a good name around the area,” said Kraninger, who grew up on an acreage near Milford. “A lot of people do business with them.”

No two days are alike for Kraninger, who travels around MaxYield’s west region to provide clients with the products they need, handle maintenance equipment, run the dry fertilizer facility at Emmetsburg, operate the grain dryer at Mallard and work in the chemical facility at Dickens. “Seed is my favorite part of the business,” said Kraninger, who enjoys working with MaxYield’s agronomists and SciMax Solutions specialists. “I also like learning new things.”

The MaxYield team helps speed up the learning curve. Kraninger credits Walt Reichert, MaxYield’s west area team leader, and Ann Wiese, Emmetsburg location leader, for guiding him. “Walt is very good about finding out your interests and helping you learn more. Ann also makes time for you and answers your questions.”

Kraninger looks forward to growing his career with MaxYield. “There’s always room to move up in the company. There are also a lot of career paths you can pursue here.”

Editor’s note: In his free time, Kraninger enjoys working with vintage farm equipment, including anything John Deere. He purchased his 1964 John Deere 3020 in 5th grade with a $5,000 loan that he paid off early after starting a custom hay-baling business. Kraninger still runs this business and also enjoys hunting, trapping, and spending time with friends and family.


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