Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team develops leaders in the agriculture industry


Courtesy of Claire Solsma

The Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team visited the capitol to learn about lobbying and policy work in conjunction with the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Courtesy of Claire Solsma

Megan Nemec

The Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team helps both the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board understand individuals who are pursuing agriculture careers. These individuals are able to give feedback and help create programs that specifically assist the future of agricultural production.

The Collegiate Advisory Team consists of one representative from each community college in the state that has an agricultural program, as well as one representative from Dordt College, Northwestern College, Morningside College and Graceland University. 

Six spots are reserved for students attending Iowa State.

Team members come from a variety of different backgrounds. Claire Solsma, junior in agricultural and life sciences education, joined the team after hearing about it over email.

“My parents were never in the Iowa Corn Growers Association, so I never knew about the team until this year when I got an email about applying for the opportunity,” Solsma said.

Brett Maier, senior in agricultural business and environmental science, heard about it through his family’s membership in the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association.

“My family has always been very involved with Iowa Corn and when I came to campus I was involved with the Iowa Corn club,” Maier said. “Through my family’s involvement and the district field manager I discovered the Collegiate Advisory Team and it just seemed like the next step for me and my involvement in Iowa Corn.”

The advisory team helps to promote the association on campus and expose members to different aspects of the agriculture industry.

“We had the opportunity to go to the capital and learn what Iowa Corn is doing with lobbying as well as policy work, and we could even go to Washington D.C. to lobby on a nationwide level,” Solsma said.

The group meets several times during the year and attends events on a more individual basis.

“We’ve met twice this year as a team and we are required to go to committee and board meetings as well,” Maier said. “I was one of the members that attended the Commodity Classic in Orlando a couple of weeks ago.”

Solsma’s favorite part of being on the team is networking with other team members. Although it was nerve-wracking meeting everyone initially, Solsma said she has made great friends who she has learned a lot from.

Team members also meet a variety of industry professionals to help make connections for when they graduate.

“My favorite part of being on the team is meeting all of the people at Iowa Corn, whether it’s the staff or the directors,” Maier said. “Many of them have been in the industry for over 30 years so every time I speak with them I am learning new things.”

Another avenue of interest in the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association that college students can be involved with is the Iowa Corn Grower’s club on campus which is new and fast growing. 

Maier said joining this club can help those interested learn more about Iowa Corn before applying for the collegiate advisory team.

If interested in being a part of the Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team in the future, an application will be sent out next fall. Multiple students are selected each year from Iowa State. 

“The team helps to develop us as young professionals in agriculture,” Maier said. “Iowa Corn wants us to be prepared for the industry in general and how we can help better agriculture as a whole, in whatever commodity you are interested in.”