Published on Wednesday, October 02, 2019
“Tacos and tractors? Count me in!” As much as I’d like to say this is how got my internship, it wasn’t that ‘to the point.’ To break it down for you, I know almost nothing about agriculture or seeds for that matter. I decided after my second year of college at The University of Tennessee at Martin that I was going to wing it and take on a degree in agriculture. It took me so long to change my degree to something ag-based due to the mindset, “if I didn’t grow up in agriculture, I have no place to get a degree in it,” and boy was I wrong. The decision I made to take a leap of faith and change my major opened so many doors for me, and I never knew how passionate I would come to be towards the world of agriculture. It took me a long time to find my place and be okay with not being a kid who grew up in agriculture at a majority ag college, but I would say stepping out of my comfort zone would be the best decision I made throughout my entire college career.
During my first semester as an agriculture major, concentration in Agricultural Engineering to be exact, I joined our collegiate Tractor Team. That was the first step to getting my foot into the door of the agricultural world. I opened up so much in that first year, the experiences I had taught me how to communicate with people I never thought I would. I took a course that year on precision ag; basically, the gist of that is satellite farming. During that course, we had a Beck’s Employee come to our class to teach us about FARMserver®, and that is how I discovered Beck’s, but it stopped there. I just knew Beck’s had seed and a neat farm data program, that was it. I went on with my degree and extended my interest in the plant world. I took some soil classes and a few plant science courses that piqued my interest in row crops.
Around the end of my junior year, I decided I needed to start thinking about my future and what kind of job I would like to have when I graduated, so I went to a career fair on campus. I walked around for what felt like hours in a room full of companies, agencies, and businesses I knew nothing about. While sipping on some orange juice and eating a donut, I stumbled upon Beck’s Hybrids. They were front row and center. How did I miss them right away? So, since they were the only company I knew a hair about, I decided I would tell them I knew who they were and started to ramble. (I do that a lot, I claim that’s how I got the internship). Lucky them, I had a résumé on me and was able to provide them with a document listing all of my non-agriculture experience. Somehow, they were impressed enough with me that they wanted to interview me. That’s where the “Taco’s and Tractors” comes from.
I was contacted shortly after by a Research Associate out of Henderson, Kentucky, in hopes to meet me near a test plot they were going to harvest and take data on half an hour off-campus at the local Mexican restaurant for an interview. Who says no to free chips and queso? Not I. Let’s keep in mind this was mid-October, so things were starting to get chilly here in the south. From the start, I knew this was my kind of place because they told me to come comfortable -- jeans and a T-shirt, my everyday attire. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed an interview more than I enjoyed the interview I had that day. It was laid back, and I felt like I was having dinner with my family. Before I left, I asked if I could go out to the plot and watch them harvest soybeans. Kindly, they said yes, and we headed out. They were using a Kincaid 8-XP plot combine, cutest piece of equipment ever. When in the field, I was able to connect with them at a personal level and explain more about my love of agriculture and how I wanted to extend my knowledge in the field. It was a great experience because I wasn’t just another face at an interview. I got to show my interest more in-depth than just through an application on paper.
I got a phone call. I was offered the Research Intern position in Henderson, Kentucky. Needless to say, I was shocked. The questions flew through me. Was this something I could actually pull off? Me? Doing research on crops? Am I actually good enough for this? I took a few days to process the offer and ask myself many questions. I called back and accepted the position. From that point on I did my utmost to prepare for the summer I had ahead of me.
Beck’s booked all 20+ interns hotel rooms and invited us up to Atlanta, Indiana, for a week to learn about the company. On that trip, I met two of my now closest friends, but I was also met with the stomach flu on the third day. When I say I was sick, I was SICK. No other company would have treated me as well as Beck’s did. They made me feel right at home when I was 400 miles away from my family and stuck in a hotel. But this wasn’t the last time Beck’s welcomed us like family. Mid-June we were welcomed back, and not only to the home office but to the home of Beck’s President, Scott Beck, for dinner and a nice clay shooting competition between us interns. It was a night full of good food and fellowship.
Over the last 14 weeks, I was able to take all of the book work I learned in school and apply it in the field. From planting in five different states, putting in 15-hour days, collecting soil and tissue samples, scouting insects with our agronomist, weed eating every square inch of the farm, I continued to learn more and more about my choice of profession each day. You don’t realize at the moment the hard work you’re putting in, or what the outcome will be. Driving through the farm bright and early at 7 a.m. the morning of field show and seeing perfectly laid out “BECK’S” signs, straight rows of corn and soybeans, bright yellow pulled back ears of corn, compares to nothing I’ve ever seen before. Knowing you worked so hard all summer, in the blazing hot heat, for that single most important day of the year, THAT is the most rewarding feeling ever.
When I take a moment to really look back over the summer, I think to myself, “how did I pull that off?” I didn’t give myself enough credit for the things I was able to do. If we are being completely honest here, I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I had the experience it took to work with such a successful company, and I didn’t think I was deserving of the experience I was given. I pushed myself harder this summer than I have ever before and didn’t think I could do it. Not thinking I could do it made me believe I couldn’t do it. I took a summer class in 4 weeks, had an internship 300 miles from home in a place I had never laid eyes on before, a relationship 4 hours apart and a summer project I somehow threw together last minute (sorry Mrs. Leslie). I didn’t think could do it. But here’s the kicker, I did it. And I wish I had faith in myself instead of doubt. I’ve always had a hard time believing I could do something challenging that I wasn’t smart enough or strong enough. This summer proved me wrong and taught me that it’s okay to be in a hard position but believing in yourself is the only thing that’s going to get you through it. I met some truly amazing people this summer, ones who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and believed in me when I was ready to quit. I am thankful for the people in my life that believed in me this summer and a company that pushed me to see my full potential.
I hope that one day, I can make an ever-lasting impression on others as Beck’s did for me. That I can be the difference someone needs in their life. That you never say no to Mexican food, because look at what it can lead to. (And I don’t even like Mexican food…)
To those who are looking at a career in agriculture and don’t know where to start, reach out to your professors, find a mentor, and just get out there! The worst anyone can do to you is simply say no.
Laine McGee | 2019 Summer Intern
If you’re wondering who I am, which I am sure you are, I should probably give you some information. My name is Laine McGee. I was born and raised in a small town in north Florida that goes by the name of Starke. I basically took my first steps on a small dirt road in two-buck hunting club, and that’s where my roots lay. I moved to Tennessee at a young age, and all I knew about agriculture was that cows were cute and I had a love for horses. Once I moved to Tennessee, I was really able to find out what agriculture was, and I grew extremely fond of the lifestyle farmers live. Therefore, I decided to obtain a degree in agriculture and broaden my knowledge of this field through the University of Tennessee at Martin. Throughout pursuing my degree, I’ve become very aware of the seeds God has planted in my life to lead me to where I am today.
Author: Laine McGee
Categories: Intern Avenue
Tags: intern avenue, Kentucky PFR, Internship, We Are Beck's