2020 SUMMER INTERNS: Cameron Collins

Aurora Cooperative 3 years ago

My internship this summer at Aurora Cooperative has revolved around grain accounting. Most of what I have been doing has been related to the behind the scenes work that is done to keep track of the grain financials. I have spent a lot of time so far learning the accounting software that Aurora Cooperative uses. This has been a very fun learning experience as the software is very important in keeping the company on track. Recently, I have been working on transfers of grain from one Aurora Coop elevator to another. I have also spent time with Sam Johnson, who is the grain hedge desk manager. He has shown me what he does day to day, which includes managing the Coop’s position on the board of trade and managing the entries of grain purchases and sales. I really enjoyed spending time with Sam, as it is interesting to watch the markets move up and down along with learning why they are moving a certain direction.

One of the most interesting experiences I have had this year revolves around the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The USDA has announced that it is providing funds to farmers to help compensate for the price drop in commodities caused by the pandemic. Farmers have been asking grain merchandisers and other people within Aurora Cooperative for their storage reports, so that they can provide an accurate count of their bushels to the Farm Service Agency. I have been assisting in creating these reports and then sending them back to the merchandisers to give to the farmers.

I also had the privilege of going out to the Aurora West elevator location and watch a train get loaded. I have never experienced the process of what it takes to load a train. It was crazy to see how many bushels were being loaded on the train that fast. It takes a lot of people and a lot of coordination to load the trains, and I enjoyed getting the chance to see how it all comes together. I was able to watch the operator load the train from the loading room, as well as looking at the computer software that determines which bin the grain comes out of. I was also given the opportunity to get on the train and watch how to operate a locomotive. I liked being able to see the physical loading of the train, along with the accounting for the train that is done in the main office.

Another great experience I have had at Aurora Cooperative is my summer project. Part of the intern program at Aurora Coop is completing a summer project of our choice. We get to work on the project all summer and then have the privilege of presenting it to the executive team at the end of the internship. My mentor, Samantha Carlson, helped me choose my summer project, which is an in-depth analysis of the grain freight system. Working on this project has been fun so far this summer, as I have met many people involved in freight in my efforts to map out the process. It has been such a great opportunity, as I have been allowed to take the project in any direction I choose.

So far, this internship has been a wonderful experience, and I have had a lot of fun working for Aurora Cooperative. I am very excited to see where the rest of the summer takes me.