GROWMARK FS Develops Future Ag Leaders

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gfsEvery summer GROWMARK FS (GFS) hosts five to ten interns in an ongoing effort to develop and interact with the next generation in the agricultural industry. Taking on the roles of seed and field specialist and finance and business development experts, two students, Anthony Brooks and Andrew Turner, have had a busy summer acclimating to the agriculture and multi-faceted industry that continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

Unlike traditional internships, where students show up for their shifts and shadow employees, GFS engages with their new workers by challenging them to solve a real world problem the business is facing. Their presentation at the end of the 12-week internship will reflect their solutions to solving the problem, including ways the business can improve and change operations to better meet everyday demands.

Anthony Brooks of Milford, DE, now a senior at West Virginia University, grew up on his grandfather’s farm near Slaughter Beach. He has always been interested in agricultural science, showing his dedication by becoming the State President of Future Farmers of America (FFA). Until his internship with GFS this summer, Brooks wanted to become a teacher to introduce kids to the field he finds so exciting. Through his GFS internship, however, Brooks has learned the large variety of occupations within the industry and the opportunities for what he can accomplish with agricultural science has expanded. On a daily basis he is working with farmers, surveying their crops, analyzing the elements that effect their growth and providing solutions to increase overall yield.

“I have enjoyed spending time with customers out in the field. Each customer is different and they all have different challenges,” said Brooks. “I enjoy helping them solve those challenges.”

Andrew Turner, from Richmond, VA, moved to Milford, DE for his summer internship at GFS. A senior at Roanoke College in VA, Turner is majoring in Business Administration, Economic and Finance. Although Turner enjoys the idea of helping businesses grow internally, he does not like the idea of sitting in an office all day behind a computer. The field work he has experienced with GFS allows Turner to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion of business and finance.

“I like being outside but want to see the business side of things; how it internally works in the agricultural industry,” said Turner.

Turner was brought in to help find solutions to the challenge of unpaid debts to the company. Over the last two months, he has worked to streamline a process that allows customer debt to be transferred to a third-party company, allowing debt to decrease and potential for growth to increase. This transfer process can take a GFS employee several weeks to complete or multiple employees several days, so Turner’s work revealed solutions to shorten the process and use fewer employees, ultimately saving GFS time and money.

According to GFS General Manager Jeff Price, the internships allow the business to interview the students but also give the students an opportunity to be introduced to GFS’s culture and philosophy. As the students learn more about how the company interacts with customers and their goals of growing as a “good corporate citizen,” the students also have a chance to decide whether the company is right for them. Price states that historically 50-60 percent of GFS interns are hired as employees after the 12-week program. GFS is headquartered in Milford, DE and has 39 locations from Western NY to the Eastern Shore of VA. This year’s intern class consists of ten interns in NY, NJ, PA, and DE.

“Over the last eight years we have begun to hire the millennial and started to teach them about the industry,” said Price. “We are excited to see them, over time, take this company to the next level and excited to see what they achieve.”

At the end of the 12-week process, the interns will present their challenges and solutions as an oratory dissertation. Their hard work and dedication to GFS will not only set a great foundation of experience for their future careers, but, in some cases, will allow the students to begin a career in the agricultural industry right away.

“With anything, you need to get real life experience outside of the classroom to be successful,” said Assistant Customer Service Manager Andrea Venters. “The skills they learn will be very useful for them as they move forward.”

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