This summer, Dr. Jake Vossenkemper is leading a team of research interns throughout the Liqui-Grow territory to learn the latest in crop technology and nutrient management and apply their knowledge out in the field.
Some are learning about Liqui-Grow for the first time, while others are returning to the intern team to soak in more knowledge and experience. We’re excited to share how these young leaders are contributing to Dr. Jake’s ongoing research.
Growing up in the small town of Port Byron, Illinois, Ella Garret heard about Liqui-Grow through a friend, who recommended the internship to her. “I recently changed my degree to ag business and I wanted to learn more about it and what I can do with it,” Ella G. says. “I love the lifestyle and wanted to do something in the workforce with it!”
Ella G. has been able to experience multiple aspects of the agriculture workforce throughout the summer. Her primary focus, however, has been working hard in Dr. Jake’s research fields, from soil sampling and planting, to helping spray the fields this summer.
“Working with Dr. Jake has been great,” Ella G. says. “He’s excellent at slowing down and teaching you about anything.”
Ella G. admits she didn’t know what to expect coming into her summer internship with Liqui-Grow, but says, “I loved every part of this internship. Liqui-Grow is a great company to intern for, and you learn a ton.”
Ella Krukow grew up on a large row crop and cattle operation, but she wanted to expand her agronomy knowledge. “I’ve been involved with livestock my whole life. I wanted an internship that would provide more insight to row crops,” she says.
Ella K.’s time in the field with Dr. Jake and the other research interns taught her about crop protection products, plant biology and soil science. “Agronomy can be fun!” she says, also noting how she enjoyed building relationships with others in the company. “Liqui-Grow is definitely a family-oriented company,” Ella K. says.
Learning under Dr. Jake was a great experience for her. “I didn’t expect he would be there all the time, but he was, and he taught me a lot,” she says.
Some of her biggest takeaways from the summer include seeing the difference of a traditional planting season versus windy, hot days planting research plots, doing a lot of stop-and-go with the planter. “It was hard for me to see planting go so slow coming from a large row crop background,” she says.
Ella K. also discovered her interest in marketing and plans to help promote the internship program for future students to show how fun and educational the experience is.
Ryan Parchert comes from a diversified family operation started by his grandpa, consisting of row crops, cattle and show pigs. He learned about Liqui-Grow’s internship opportunities from Liqui-Grow employee Cheyenne Bush and was interested in the research aspect.
“My goal is to be an agronomy salesman and sell fertilizer,” Ryan says. The research internship is helping him gain the technical knowledge needed to excel in that career path.
His prior knowledge of Liqui-Grow was pretty limited, but over the past few months, he’s learned much more about the company, services and quality of products they offer to customers. He’s also witnessed the crop performance benefits of liquid suspension products compared to dry fertilizer.
A couple of Ryan’s favorite things about the internship are working with Dr. Jake and interacting with customers on service calls. “Everyday is an adventure,” he says. “That’s why I think I enjoy it so much. I like to have fun while I’m working.”
Ryan has really enjoyed spending time with farmers and talking through their problems to find a good solution. “I’m a big people-person and I enjoy connections,” he says.
Working on research trials has also helped Ryan gain a deeper understanding of agronomy and crop nutrition. “We had a field where we were all pretty certain what the problem was, but on closer examination, it was a different nutrient deficiency than what we originally thought,” he says. “We looked at the soil reports and what was causing the deficiencies in the plant. They lined up, but not close enough to explain what we were seeing. We thought it was Zinc, but it ended up being Manganese.”
As Ryan wraps up his internship next month, he’s excited to explore more opportunities in sales and see the results from his work in the research plot. “This internship has really been an integral part of what I want to do with my future,” he says. “I’m really excited to see what the next day holds.”
Hope Saroka didn’t come from a farming background, but got involved in agriculture through FFA, and found her love of crops through competitions. During a job shadow in college, she met Dr. Jake, who suggested she apply for the research internship. Now, she’s back for her second year!
Dr. Jake gave Hope a deeper understanding of agronomy, beyond what she was hearing in the classroom. “I’m applying to the research trials what I learned in the classroom the spring before,” she says.
Hope enjoys the diversity of her work, including pulling soil samples and working with the lab to understand the nutrients better. Service calls are also a highlight of her summer. “I’m a very social person, so that fulfills my social butterfly needs. We also get to talk through problems that customers have in their fields and help them decide what to do next,” she says.
Her greatest lesson, though, has been the importance of building relationships with people throughout the company, as she has been able to learn all aspects of the business through meeting sales applicators, location managers and customers. “I didn’t realize how family oriented Liqui-Grow is. Everyone cares about everyone,” she says. “This was a perfect fit for me. I got the taste of plant sciences, sales and office management. It goes hand-in-hand with what I learned in college.”
Wyatt Wessel is a first time research intern for Liqui-Grow, but a longtime follower of Dr. Jake’s work, as Wyatt’s father owns a contract research business and has worked with Dr. Jake for several years prior.
Seeing life on the inside of the company, though, has given Wyatt an even greater appreciation of the company and research that Dr. Jake leads. “I never realized how widespread the territory Liqui-Grow covers and how diverse Twin State Inc. is,” he says.
Working in research, Wyatt knows the importance of accuracy and detail, but the biggest lesson he learned this year was patience. “There’s no reason to get upset about a mistake,” he says. In his trials, he faced less than favorable conditions for ideal results and had to make adjustments for the test to work properly. “The microbes needed to achieve the results didn’t have the moisture they needed,” Wyatt says.
Wyatt’s internship also helped him expand his network and opened up doors for future opportunities. “It’ll help me become more diversified in the world of research, especially if I’m wanting to get into contract work. The N2O study I did could be a potentially huge market for contract work,” he says. Combining his education in the field with classroom learning is exciting for Wyatt, who already has a list of questions for his professors this fall.
Each of these interns came into their summer experiences with different backgrounds and aspirations for the future, but all are leaving with the same feelings of gratitude and growth. We are proud to support the next generation of agriculture, and we look forward to providing hands-on educational opportunities each year through research internships.