Hello everyone, my name is Justin Stengel, and I am a second year Grain Merchandising Intern based out of the Aurora, Grand Island, Superior, and Sedan locations working underneath John Borchers, Director of Merchandising and Origination. I am a senior majoring in Ag Business with a minor in Ag Finance at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO and will graduate in December 2023. While at Northwest I am a member of the Northwest Collegiate Cattlemen’s Association and Alpha Gamma Rho. Being a second-year intern, I feel with this summer and my college experiences, I will be prepared to hit the ground running after graduation.
While deciding to come back to be a second-year intern was easy, deciding what to expect was difficult because so much has changed on the grain team since I was last here. To start we met with our internship team just as we did last year then I met with my mentor for the first time as he was new to the company a couple of months ago. This meeting got me excited for the summer because we discussed that rather than doing the day-to-day operations of a merchandiser all summer like I had done last summer; I was going to be doing projects and tasks that would help benefit the grain department. With these projects, I would get to see the grain department from a 30,000 feet view to better understand how it comes together to make our farmer-owners profitable and make the cooperative profitable as well.
To start off we started by going over some “Grain 101” to get back in the swing of talking about the markets and spreads. A goal my mentor set for himself was to include me in all logistical and grain conversations he is having with fellow team members, so I get a better understanding of how Aurora Cooperative is moving grain and why we are doing so. With these conversations, it allows me to look at the cooperative all together, rather than just a few locations and understand where we are generating our basis to offer our farmer-owners from. This is giving me the opportunities to also learn and understand why we are selling grain to an ethanol or crush plant rather than on the rail.
Having a different mentor this year has given me the opportunity to brainstorm and create projects to help the grain team. Since John is new to Aurora Cooperative, he came into the company with a few ideas of improvements or practices that Aurora does not use that he has used in his past experiences. Each of these projects presents me with a new opportunity to learn more about the contracts that Aurora Cooperative offers, that I was not familiar with last summer, as well as how we come up with bids at locations across our trading area.
To say the least, the start to my second internship has been exciting. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and continuing to build relationships with the grain team and producers I was in contact with last summer.