Students present at conclusion of GROWMARK internship

September 18, 2013

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(L-R): Kyle Weber, Austin Hoefs, Dr. Annie Kinwa-Muzinga, Bekka Lee and Bryanna Bauman. Not pictured: Nicole Stumpner.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — Hands-on, practical application of coursework is something that is widely utilized at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It offers students with particular opportunities and resources to see concepts or processes in action in a professional atmosphere in the way of internships and cooperative experiences. UW-Platteville students Kyle Weber, an animal and soil and crop sciences major from Volga, Iowa; Bryanna Bauman, an agribusiness and animal science major from Juda, Wis.; Austin Hoefs, an agribusiness major with an emphasis in management from Burlington, Wis.; Nicole Stumpner, an accounting and business administration major from Crystal Lake, Ill.; and Bekka Lee an animal and soil and crop sciences major from Belmont, Wis., all recently completed internships with GROWMARK, a cooperative organization based in Bloomington, Ill.

“Agricultural internships are hands-on experiences with a focus on student learning,” said Dr. Annie Kinwa-Muzinga, professor and agribusiness program director. “Our students get a chance to explore an industry and decide if agribusiness is a program they wish to pursue. We have consistently received positive feedback from our students who have participated in internships.”

“In addition, internships help students establish connections with others in the agriculture industry as well as providing an advantage when applying for career positions,” said Dr. Michael Compton, School of Agriculture director and internship coordinator. “In some cases, successful completion of one or more internship experiences has led to higher starting salaries. However, over the last several years we have seen that more employers have listed completion of an internship among the basic qualifications for employment.”

Hoefs worked with precision planting equipment for corn and soybean fields. GROWMARK requires students to conduct a research project as a part of their internship. Hoefs’ research involved looking for standard deviations in the spacing of crops and the resulting impact on bushel yield and return on investment for growers. Through this project he discovered that growers who used precision planting equipment were afforded a seven-bushel advantage compared to those who did not. Hoefs presented his research at the conclusion of the internship in a presentation entitled, “Digging Deeper: Precision Planting.”

“The most valuable thing for me was the hands-on experience of being out in the field every day,” Hoefs said. “Getting your boots dirty is a good start to any career, especially in agriculture.”

Hoefs, who graduates in December, has ambitions of either pursuing a career in crop consulting or working to complete a master’s degree in finance, which would help him understand and predict the return on investment for growers.

“I am very impressed with what our students have learned during the time they spent at GROWMARK,” said Kinwa-Muzinga who attended the students’ concluding presentations at the end of the summer. “They were confident in answering questions on their respective researches, and it makes me proud as a professor to see them applying what they have learned in class. They are now capable to assess what it takes to be successful in this industry.”

Kinwa-Muzinga went on to express her gratitude to GROWMARK and to encourage students to seek internships with a company in the future. “Companies such as GROWMARK complete our job of teaching and give our students experience in the real world,” she said. “We are very thankful and hope to continue our relationship for as long as agriculture still lives.”  

Contact: Dr. Annie Kinwa-Muzinga, agribusiness program director, (608) 342-1007, kinwamua@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, obrienan@uwplatt.edu

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