Student interns get hands-on training with MFA this summer

interns2021The 2021 MFA Ag Experience internship program kicked off May 17 at MFA Incorporated’s home office in Columbia. During the program’s ori­entation, interns had the opportunity to learn about the company’s standards and policies, explore their upcoming projects and network with MFA execu­tives and fellow interns.

The 12-week program is designed to challenge, educate and inspire college students pursuing careers in agricul­ture, business and communications. To be eligible, applicants must be working toward a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university, be a full-time student in good standing with a grade point average above 2.75 and have completed their sophomore year of college.

After being paired with an MFA men­tor, each student participates in a customized internship geared toward his or her interests and career objectives. This year’s topics include sales, precision agriculture, animal health and nutrition, communications, education and outreach.

Throughout the summer, the students will gain valuable, hands-on experience within the industry and collaborate with MFA and its members. As trusted and professional employees, they will also have access to the same technology resources, events and programs as other full-time employees in similar positions.

Overall, the goal is for interns to apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world setting. The program concludes Aug. 6, when all interns will give a final presentation detailing their projects and experiences to senior-level managers. Those who perform well throughout the program may be considered for fu­ture Ag Experience internship positions, part-time work during the school year or full-time employment after graduation.

This year’s interns are, front row, from left: Haley Kidd, Emma Ploch, Lauren Quinlan and Chloe Momphard. In back are, from left: James Fischer, Emma Miller, Alexandra Gast, Maddee Gastler and Caleb Boyd.

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Soy powers new eco-friendly battery

Scientists at the Kansas Polymer Research Center have invented a new kind of battery that is more eco-friendly.

While that’s good news, equally good news is that they invent­ed it by transforming a product that is plentiful in the heartland: soy. Or rather, crop residue after soybeans have been harvested.

“We’re using the stems, leaves, shells—things that would otherwise have no commercial value—to produce activated carbon material, and suddenly that has tremendous value,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Ram Gupta, the chief researcher for the project.

Soybeans are the No. 1 crop in Missouri, and one of the top 10 crops in Kansas. A grant from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council using soy checkoff dollars funded Gupta’s research in the KPRC labs, located on the campus of Pittsburg State University.

Demand for batteries is growing rapidly, about 10% to 12% annually in what has become a $100 billion industry globally. The invention is aimed at replacing the more costly conventional activated carbon-based batteries made from fossil fuels. A patent is pending, and once it’s finalized, the new technology will be available for licensing to commercial buyers.

“This is important to farmers, to jobs, to green energy,” Gupta said. “It adds value to soybeans and creates a new market.”

In future projects, the research team plans to produce a dual carbon battery, with both electrodes made of biomass.

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Today's Farmer alum in hall of fame

Retired Today’s Farmer executive editor and MFA Director of Communications Chuck Lay was recently honored as a 2020 inductee to the Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame. The award is traditionally presented during the Missouri Insti­tute of Cooperative’s annual meeting, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

During his 28-year tenure at MFA, Lay was responsible for the strategic planning and execution of MFA’s editorial and advertising direction. As editor of Today’s Farmer, he won nu­merous writing awards and became a leader in the Cooperative Communicators Association, a national organization.

Lay played a significant role in the Missouri Institute of Cooperatives over the years. He served on the Hall of Fame and Publicity committees and was the organization’s long-time secretary.

One of Lay’s great motivations was to archive and celebrate MFA’s long history. In 2012, when the cooperative began plan­ning in earnest for its 100th anniversary, MFA commissioned a history book. Lay got the job of researching and writing. The result was Proud Past, Bright Future, which was released to coincide with the anniversary. While other books had been written about MFA, the company’s history hadn’t been officially compiled since 1979.

Lay spent many hours at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection of the Missouri State Historical Society in Columbia, Mo.—the location housing the collected papers of MFA founder William Hirth and long-time president, Fred Heinkel.

Aside from the library work, Lay did extensive interviews with many MFA employees and retirees, including Ray Young, Eric Thompson, Bud Frew and Don Copenhaver—past MFA leaders with an in-depth knowledge of the cooperative’s inner workings and personalities.

Lay took pride in communicating for cooperatives. His work documenting MFA’s history mirrored his approach to writing for any publication—he wanted to get it down on paper, and he wanted to get it right. We congratulate him on joining the Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame.

Copies of Proud Past, Bright Future are available for pur­chase at todaysfarmermagazine.com/shop.

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Today's Farmer is published 9 times annually. Printed issues arrive monthly except combined issues for June/July, August/September and December/January. Subscriptions are available only in the United States.

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