Today, we began our day with a trip to the Iowa Soybean Association, a trade organization headquartered in Ankeny. We stayed there for much of the day, save for a tour of the John Deere Des Moines Work in the afternoon, which was right down the road. We got to hear presentations about agriculture and business, meet with other young leaders, and finish up the business simulation from yesterday. After that, it was finally time for some fun – an Iowa Cubs game! Needless to say, I was a sucker for the red- and blue-colored ice cream…
One of the presenters we had was Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn. Mr. Quinn is a former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia who now serves as the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, which “honors outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food throughout the world.” The organization was founded by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, a 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In 1990, he partnered with John Ruan of Des Moines to sponsor the Prize and fulfill his dream of it becoming as well-known and looked-upon as the Nobel. It was so interesting to see how passionate Mr. Quinn was about the work he has done. It’s amazing how much just one person can make a difference in the world. He is absolutely the most driven and dedicated individual I’ve ever met, which is why the World Food Prize continues to grow in importance to the rest of the world.
It was interesting to see how Mr. Quinn and others that we talked to like Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association and Aaron Johnson of Accumold stayed up-to-date with current activities, trends, and business development by simply reading books. They all highly encouraged just picking up a book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, business or trade related. This idea really sank in when Aaron talked about how looking at others outlook and experiences in life can help us when creating our own outlooks and making decisions.
During our talks, we also learned a lot about agriculture, especially in Iowa. When thinking about where the agribusiness will be in 25 years from now, I think that we will be seeing a lot more big business farming operations. We will still have family farm operations, but I think with the technological advances in farming equipment, these will be private, large-scale operations because they can have more land to grow crops and harvest them as well as new technology to help hog and cattle development. I also think that there will be a greater focus on how farm products can help us in our everyday lives. For instance, I think soy biodiesel will have started to take off by then and we will see more development in their market.
When I think about how much trade organizations like the Soybean Association and the Association of Business and Industry have such a big influence on agriculture and business practices in Iowa, it makes me start to think of what trade organizations could help me in the future. I would like to work in the non-profit sector, preferably in the travel and tourism industry. I’m currently interning for the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, a great example of a non-profit tourism organization. We are a Destination Marketing Association accredited business. The Destination Marketing Association is a great example of a trade organization that could help me in the future, and I will continue to look at ways that they can help me as I move out into the “real world.”
All in all, it was a really fun day. Looking forward to tomorrow!