As our cooperative business evolves, Harvest Land recognizes the need to invest in our greatest asset: our employees. With nearly 1/3 of our employee group retiring in the next ten years, there is immense opportunity for individuals to advance their careers within our cooperative and gain extensive experience to provide greater service and value to our members.
We believe in hiring attitudes and teaching skills. If we can find the best people to be a part of our team, the skill set to do the job well will follow. In 2016 we developed two programs to capitalize on the tremendous talent we already have employed at our cooperative.
The ICE (Internal Career Excellence) program was developed last year to prepare employees for the increased responsibilities and future demands of an evolving agriculture climate. This program creates opportunities to provide emerging frontrunners with a broader perspective of our business, and the more-strategic perspective enables them to see our business as a whole—beyond specific functions or departments. The ICE program is designed to enable participants to strategically frame their thinking, learn and use basic cooperative business knowledge and tools to better serve our members.
ACE (Accelerated Career Excellence) was also created in 2016, and follows the same guidelines as ICE but with an external hire. Both programs had an excellent inaugural year. We had more than forty employees apply for ICE and eight external candidates apply for ACE, proving the strong desire individuals have to learn how to provide greater value to our farmer-members.
Our first-ever ACE program participant was Kyle Baumer, a Centerville, Indiana native. Kyle was raised on a 400-acre dairy farm and went on to graduate from Indiana University East with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with a concentration in marketing. Prior to Harvest Land’s ACE program, he worked outside the agriculture industry.
Kyle applied for the ACE program because he always knew he wanted to get back to his roots in agriculture. He viewed the program as a great way to see what Harvest Land does from the ground floor, up, knowing that possible opportunities would be presented if he was willing to put in the hard-work along the way.
“The greatest advantage going through the ACE program was that I got to work in every segment of our company and learn from people that have been with us for many years,” Kyle said. “Also, being able to attend the leadership and communication courses was very self-rewarding.” Harvest Land partnered with Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agribusiness and Bayer Crop Science to facilitate these elite trainings.
“One of the challenges I found being the new guy was gaining fellow employees’ trust, which took a little time. I learned that you must be willing to learn the whole time and not be afraid to ask questions when uncertain of a situation or duty,” Kyle went on to explain of his ACE experience.
On July 31 Kyle moved into a grain originator role, where the primary functions of the position are to originate grain from local producers, to provide marketing education for Harvest Land Co-op customers and to help achieve Harvest Land’s grain department mission and goals, which result in outstanding customer service and a profitable grain department.
“I look forward to working with farmers and helping them better market their grain. I know this will be a great learning opportunity for me to work with our farmers and gain insight into how they run their business,” Kyle said.
We are so glad that Kyle made the decision
to come back to his agricultural roots –
he has been a tremendous addition to our team!
If you’d like to learn more about Harvest Land’s career development programs, we invite you to visit our website.