By Brittany Jurgemeyer
National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador
Iowa State University
Rodd Whitney grew up in a family-owned farm supply business in Ida Grove, Iowa. Throughout high school, he was heavily involved with his FFA chapter, serving as chapter president, Star Greenhand and participating on the Conduct of Meetings and Parliamentary Procedure team. Rodd received a two-year degree from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and he helped in the formation of a new seed brand called Channel Bio Corp. in 1999. In October of 2005, they partnered with Monsanto.
Currently Rodd serves as an advocate for agriculture on land-grant colleges across the United States. “I also recruit for the US Row Crops Field Sales Intern program and the US Field Sales Trainee program at Monsanto,” he says. These experiences have given him valuable insight into how students should prepare for careers in agriculture.
Many college students today have an abundant number of opportunities to choose from. Rodd’s advice is to get involved in student organizations, serve in challenging leadership roles and continue to learn. He also suggests having an internship early in your college career. “An internship is the best way to find out what you want in a career and, ultimately, what you may not want to do in your career,” Rodd says.
Internships and leadership positions are beneficial when looking for jobs, but Rodd explains that he looks for honesty, good communication skills, a strong work ethic as well as a great attitude in new hires. In terms of career pursuits, Rodd says to make sure that a job has a purpose beyond just you. “Helping others is the most rewarding endeavor on the planet,” he says. “Be passionate about what you do. No one follows a person without passion.”
Rodd continues his advice for college students entering the workforce by saying, “You don’t get a trophy for participating. In the real world, they keep score. You are rewarded when you wake up early, excel at your work and are respectful of leaders and teammates… and, finally, be patient in your career. Don’t always be looking for the next promotion. Wherever you are...be all there and you will be recognized.”