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AST Internship Archive

Gavin Held's 2017 Internship at Environmental Tillage Systems

Gavin Held, a senior Ag Systems Technologies major with an affinity for all things hands-on, spent his summer interning for Environmental Tillage Systems in Faribault, Minnesota, a leading manufacturer of conservation tillage and nutrient management equipment. Assigned to a team tasked with building a variable rate liquid machine that has the capability to put down up to 130 gallons an acre of liquid fertilizer, Held conducted research on the different components for the machinery.

Gavin Held at Environmental Tillage Systems

“I was never doing just one thing,” says Held. When he wasn’t out in the field talking to prospective customers about operating machines and answering tech questions, he was at trade shows displaying ETS’s products, or working with production in assembling machinery.

Held’s takeaway from his experience interning was this: “Communication is key.” As the middleman between ETS’s production, technology and service teams, Held honed his communication skills in an industry setting that required efficiency and confidence.

Being an effective communicator wasn’t the only thing Held walked away with. “I talked with different companies and was able to network with them. I made a lot of professional contacts.” Held hopes to gain different perspectives and innovative ideas from fostering these relationships.

Back at SDSU for his senior year, Held says his experience with ETS motivates him to be a more attentive student. “My internship helps me stay focused in class because now I’ve actually applied what I’ve learned at a job.” He says this is why his time with ETS was invaluable. “Interning prepares you for challenges; it opens your eyes to the real world.”

Held aspires to help farmers modernize farming practices through Precision Agriculture, which he calls the future of farming. “It’s already here but it’s always developing because new technology is constantly coming out.” He wants increase productivity and yields for farmers in South Dakota.

“I think Precision Ag is perfecting the art of farming.” Held says it allows farmers to plan their operations in cultivating and harvesting in cohesive ways to come up with strategies that will produce consistent crops.

Portrait of Lucas Ching

Lucas Ching's 2017 Internship At Climate Corporation

Lucas Ching, a senior AST major, interned with Climate Corporation in Wentworth, South Dakota, the creators behind Climate FieldView, a digital ag tool for farmers. As their research field assistant, Ching visited farms to conduct stand counts of corn, collect tissue samples for lab evaluation, and check rain gauges to compile data for the app. Ching says this data will optimize resources for farmers in the digital age.

Aside from collecting data out in the field, Ching worked with nitrogen application to see how different hybrids affected the seeds and their growth. He was able to work with crops directly, studying up close the various stages of corn, beans and wheat. This was especially useful information to Ching, who is taking a corn production class at SDSU. “Watching the corn develop through different stages gave me a better understanding of the crop.”

Ching says the most useful takeaway was information regarding pest control – how pests affect crops and how to manage them. Ching was unfamiliar with precision agriculture before studying at SDSU, and is continuing to learn about the field. He plans to utilize the knowledge to run his own family farm in Castlewood, South Dakota, as it continues to evolve. “I could bring all this knowledge back to the real world. It gives me a better idea on how to operate my farm.”

Ching’s outlook for agriculture: “I think everyone will eventually use precision ag machinery on their farms.” He believes young farmers coming out of school, like himself, will eventually relay what they learned on to their communities. “I want to know what the largest problems in agriculture are because I want to learn how to fix them and help my community.”

Jason Breuer

John Deere

Jason is an AST graduate with an emphasis in business and Ag Marketing and Ag Business minors. 

Jason worked with John Deere as a marketing intern in Bloomington, Minn. His main duties were to go to John Deere dealers in eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin and train them on Internet based applications. He helped convert many day–to–day operations to Internet–based applications. Jason said that there were a lot of dealerships that needed training, and it was a challenge to teach the employees how to efficiently operate those programs. He also enjoyed traveling the scenic state of Wisconsin and meeting new people everyday. 

When asked how he thought the AST curriculum has prepared him for this position, he replied, "The machine-orientated classes and the communications classes helped me to better communicate with the dealers on day–to–day questions about John Deere equipment. This computer and communication classes helped me to be more effective with the computer training that I was provided." 

Jason's advice for AST freshman: "AST is an excellent major, it has a wide array of classes that touch on many different aspects of the agricultural industry. You can do anything from marketing or selling the product to designing and repairing a product."

Ben Duenwald

Swift and Company

Ben chose the production option of the AST major and has a business minor. When asked how he felt about the AST major, he replied, "It's the major for anyone who is interested in hands–on learning. Employers realize the value of this major and know that AST students possess a valuable understanding of ag studies." Ben accepted a position in St. James, Minn., with Swift and Company, a subsidiary of Con Agra, as a process control technician. 

Ben interned with Cargill at the grain terminal in Illinois and found the experience to be very educational and interesting. He was awarded the internship by interviewing with a recruiter on campus. When asked what he thought about the value of internship, he replied, "Internships give a student an idea of what it would be like working for a company, and gives companies the chance to get to know a student before offering a possible full time job."


Scott Grosch

Grosch Irrigation and Drilling

Scott graduated from SDSU with a major in AST emphasis in business and a minors in agronomy and business. For more then 10 years, he has worked with Grosch Irrigation and Drilling. His company's primary business is drilling wells (city or house) and repair/installation of pumps for agricultural purposes. 

When ask how the AST curriculum prepared him for this position, Scott said, "In AST, the classes are very broad, which gave me experience in electrical, hydraulics, building structures, and business, which I have used often. Business classes are priceless in any field." 

Scott's advice for AST freshman: "You have probably heard it a thousand times, but take classes that interest you, and AST allows you to choose from many different classes. Always learning something new is good preparation for the future.

Matthew Harnish

Cenex Harvest States/Country Pride Coop

During his internship, Matthew helped scout 18,000 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and winter wheat weekly. "I made all the recommendations for the fields that I scouted, and my supervisor double-checked my recommendations," Matthew said. In addition, he had a marketing program with three products that were sold to producers in the area. He called on a list of 25 producers for his marketing project. Along with the marketing project, he sold all of the Coop's services and products. 

Matthew said the internship was a great opportunity to learn more about the products and management of production agriculture. He also gained a tremendous amount of information about agricultural products and sales. Part of his internship involved a two-day training course on products and marketing. This taught him more about the products he was selling and sales strategies. 

The best part of the internship program, according to Matthew, was "the lucrative sales bonus" he received at the end of the summer.


Beth Malsom

Star Circuits

Beth worked for Star Circuits as a chemical lab tech. Star Circuits is an electroplating company that makes circuit boards for Daktronics in Brookings.

During her internship, Beth primarily did quality–control work. She was part of the implementation of new concepts such as increasing the temperature and chemical content of chemical baths to make them work better. She also worked in the wastewater–treating area to monitor pH and copper levels of the wastewater before it left the plant for the city. Beth's internship taught her how to quickly identify qualify–control problems. It also increased her communication skills, which were necessary during troubleshooting sessions. The best part about her internship was the rewarding feeling she got when she was given a task, accomplished it, and the results were better than expected, she says.

Beth got her internship because she had previously worked at Star Circuits and her supervisor offered her the internship position. Beth would strongly recommend an internship. It gave her lab experience, knowledge of lab equipment, increased her problem solving skills, and increased her confidence as her responsibilities increased. 

Beth took a job with Midwest Seed, where she will be a seed technologist; one of her assignments will be assisting with designing, conducting, and analyzing research methods to improve or create new testing procedures for seed samples.


Jerod Matthews

Gooseneck Implement Company 

Jerod obtained a summer internship with Gooseneck Implement Company in Minot, N.D. This is a very large John Deere dealership; it covers over 1/3 of North Dakota. Jerod specialized in the sales of equipment and AMS products (GPS guidance systems and autosteer).


Jason McHenry

Case New Holland

Jason completed a summer internship in 2007 with Case New Holland, Davenport, Iowa. He was a field–test engineer and tested equipment across the U.S.

Some of the work he did included monitoring performance of prototype combines, performing tests requested by design engineers, and diagnosing problems and communicating possible solutions for flaws.

"I made decisions in the field without having to consult design engineers," said Jason. "I felt my input and opinions were taken seriously and could be used to improve the product." He also enjoyed traveling with these combines through several states and saw many different ways of farming and parts of the United States he hadn't seen before.


Carl Odde

South Dakota Soybean Processors

Carl was an engineering intern for the South Dakota Soybean Processors in Volga, S.D.

He worked on various engineering projects—helping design an oil load–out system and the load–out control room—before being assigned to a refiner project. This project consisted of demolition, moving, and rebuilding a refinery. The project has an operating budget of around $5 million and was much more complex than the last oil load–out project. It has involved a lot of contractor management, along with lots of problem solving and quick decision making. 

When asked how Carl felt about the AST curriculum and how it has prepared him for this position, he replied, "This internship required a lot of calculations and ability to work with others, which the AST curriculum encourages. My job required many drafting and designing skills, and that is part of the AST curriculum."

Carl's advice for AST freshman: "Take classes that will help you in your career, instead of taking classes that will only help your GPA. Try as many things as you can while in college, then you will know what you want to do when you graduate."


Ben Studer

Ag Horizons

Ben interned with Cargill Ag Horizons in Hutchinson, Kans., working as a production supervisor. His main objective was to learn how to manage (supervise) an elevator. His many hours of working in and around the farm as well as in school came in handy. Ben says the computer classes he took in college and high school helped greatly when having to rewrite critical task procedures and log safety meetings.

Other tasks in this internship were reading and understanding the plant operations manual and safety/loss control, becoming knowledgeable with fumigation practices, gaining an understanding of plant operations, operating the truck dump, operating load-out scales, building knowledge of rail loading procedures, participating in preventive maintenance, and gain quality inventory understanding. Altogether, he says, it was a very educational summer.


Travis Swan


During his eight–month, January through August 2009, internship with Bobcat, Travis was responsible for a variety of jobs in the Manufacturing Engineering Department. Most of his time was spent developing a parts–delivery system, building layouts, and implementing drawing changes using auto–CAD and Pro/E software. He was also responsible for keeping track of the inventory.

Travis also learned a great deal about design engineering by working on a number of projects using auto–CAD and Pro/E.

Travis says he'd recommend an internship to all students, so they can experience life outside the classroom and take time to determine what kind of work they enjoy.


Ben Wipf


Ben interned at AgSense in Huron, S.D., designing an environmental controller for hog barns, helping in the design of a weather monitoring system for a crop sprayer, testing both products, and presenting AgSense products at a farm show.

Ben learned "a ton" from doing an internship. "It was great to get experience at a company while still in college. I learned all about hog confinements and weather monitoring and a lot about electronics." Ben got his internship by talking to the owner/president of AgSense.

Would Ben recommend doing an internship? "Yes! The experience and knowledge you gain from an internship is worth it." He liked being able to start a product from scratch and bring it to production. He would also recommend an internship at AgSense.