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Internship experience provides insight

PHOTO COURTESY BROOKE BALLOU: Ballou poses with Celie Holliday and Julie Miller-Hodges, grain merchandisers at the main Aurora Cooperative Office in Aurora, NE.

In one of my all-time favorite stories, the protagonist is a hardworking, selfless soul who rises with the sun 365 days a year in order to add value to the land that has remained in his family for generations. It’s a story of cultivating values, work ethic and discipline. It’s a story of scooping feed bunks in the snow, drying baby calves during the bitterly cold days of winter, riding the combine, fixing the fence, digging up musk thistle and celebrating harvest.

It’s a story of hope— for seasonal rains, protection from the wrath of mother nature and fair market values. Most importantly, it’s the story of American farm families. Families much like the one I am blessed to call my own.

My passion for agriculture recently led me to the Aurora Cooperative where I completed a three-week internship with the grain marketing team. I spent the majority of my time shadowing two veteran grain originators, or, as they would probably tell you, asking countless questions.

A typical day began with synthesizing market outlook information into a condensed snapshot of the grain market. This led to quoting commodity futures prices for the customers’ yellow corn, white corn, milo and soybeans. I also enjoyed sharing a morning cup of coffee with a local farmer who was a masterful storyteller and had an incredibly contagious zest for life.

It was a fascinating time to complete a grain marketing internship. The biggest USDA crop report of the year came out on January 12. Unfortunately, with the very large crop carryout levels disclosed in the report, especially soybeans, the resulting effect on prices was quite burdensome for shareholders. As break even margins continue to tighten, more farmers may use hedging tools to help manage price risk when marketing their 2015 new crop corn and beans. Fortunately, my internship experience was much brighter than the outlook on commodity prices.

My internship at Aurora Cooperative gave me a glimpse at a career I’m now highly considering for the future. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and, as always, it’s a great day to be a farmer.

About the Author

Brooke Ballou
Hastings College, '15

Brooke grew up on a family farm near Wilsonville, Nebraska. She is a passionate agvocate. She is currently a senior at Hastings College where she studies agribusiness and marketing.

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