Students get opportunity to participate in Vermeer leadership program


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Vermeer Manufacturing Co., which manufactures farming and other industrial equipment leased 1,800 square feet of office space in the ISU Research Park.

Mollie Schultz

A total of 18 undergraduate students involved in the Catt Center’s Vermeer Leadership Program traveled to the Netherlands during winter break, touring Vermeer’s facilities, speaking with workers and executives at Vermeer and exploring Amsterdam.

The Vermeer Leadership Program is a new program on campus through the Vermeer Company out of Pella, Iowa.

“We saw an opportunity with the leadership program at Iowa State to help students build up their leadership skills,” said Liz Sporrer, a Vermeer employee. “We really value education at Vermeer and we wanted to help students develop these skills.”

The program is aimed toward students in engineering, business and agriculture, however all undergraduate students are encouraged to apply.

Students accepted into the program have to take two leadership courses during that academic year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Cameron Beatty, lecturer in psychology, teaches the class.

While in the Netherlands, they toured the Vermeer facility and spoke with workers at the corporation. The students said this trip was completely paid for by Vermeer, with the exception of a few meals.

When students were not at Vermeer, they were able to tour famous places in Amsterdam such as the Anne Frank Museum.

These classes provide a unique experience for the students involved. Unlike many college classes, these students get the opportunity to learn with the same group of people throughout the year.

While most college students get to know their classmates, they do not get the chance to get close to them and understand them throughout the course of the year.

Three students involved in the program, Maddy Sislow, senior in animal ecology, Alex DeGaetano, junior in industrial technology, and Carter Kemmet, senior in statistics, said this class has given them a chance to get to know their peers well and form bonds that will last outside the classroom.

Along with this, they also learned a great deal about leadership and networking. DeGaetano said was one experience that stuck out was meeting executives at Vermeer and being able to have personal conversations.

“We learned a lot about leadership through the two classes that we had to take and just by being in a group with each other and learning about all the people at Vermeer,” Sislow said.

Kemmet said the opportunity offered the chance to build up good leadership skills.

“Even if you’re not taking a managerial position you still have the experience of working with the groups of people in an effective manner,” Kemmet said.

The program has been successful in the eyes of both Vermeer and Iowa State. Vermeer employee Sara Hunter has been impressed by the students.

“The talent,” Hunter said stuck out. “I think the 18 students selected would be top-notch talent … These students are very, very talented.”

Beatty has also been impressed with how well his students are doing while learning these leadership skills and interviewing Vermeer officials this past fall. For him, the most special part was being able to interact with students for the entire year.

The students involved this year were selected last year out of a pool of 82 students. In order to apply, one must be an undergraduate student, preferably with at least two years of school left.

The students then had to write essays, provide a résumé and be interviewed and were selected from there.

The applications for next year are due at 8 a.m. Monday. The interviews will be conducted Feb. 13, and students will know if they have been selected by March 1. Both Beatty and the students encouraged others to apply if they are not sure of their chances.

“Apply. Even if you’re on the fence about it,” Beatty said. “You can’t get in if you don’t apply.”

Sislow encouraged everyone to apply, even if they do not think they are qualified.

“Don’t think that you couldn’t get in because I thought that, and then I applied,” she said. They’re looking for a diverse group, so take a chance.”