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Success from Doing Something Different: Iowa JAG and ADM Collaborate

Success from Doing Something Different
Iowa JAG and ADM Collaborate

This is a follow-up article to the one entitled Time to do Something Different from the Weekly e-Newsletter on October 30, 2013

The Need
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is a global leader in agricultural processing. As one of the world largest processors of soybeans, corn, wheat, and cocoa, ADM produces value-added food and feed ingredients that supply our nation and the rest of the world with products for healthier living. Learn more about ADM and its career opportunities here. The leadership ADM exemplifies as an agri-business continues in its goal to develop a future workforce. Putting its words into action, ADM recently established a new program entitled Learn, Innovate, Network, and Cultivate, or LINC for short. The goal of the program is to partner with local educators to create a link from high-school graduation to a career at ADM for students by enhancing classroom curriculum. Iowa JAG (iJAG) was made aware of the LINC program through the National JAG organization and took advantage of the offer to connect locally in Iowa.

The connection between iJAG and the ADM LINC was initiated through the belief that together the two could create a dynamic duo and work together to change the face of young job seekers and employers in agri-business. In the past iJAG students have experienced the workplace during classroom presentations by employers and firsthand through tours. iJAG knew that touring had a great impact for students, helping them learn more about various companies. However, utilizing tours alone limited the number of students who could be impacted. Additionally, the tours were not changing the vantage point of the teachers, called iJAG Specialists, related to business and industry and specifically careers in agriculture. The LINC program provided an opportunity to change that view.

How the Program Worked
iJAG educational specialists across Iowa participated in a week-long informational seminar. The seminar was designed to help educators gain a better understanding of the company and the expectations of the workplace. The goals were: (1) to help students and educators know more ADM and the agriculture industry, (2) help students learn more about careers in agri-business. During that week a shift took place for iJAG Specialists. Specialists, now better informed, were armed to have a greater impact on hundreds of students in Iowa and Illinois; a budding workforce pipeline for ADM. Sarah Clark, an iJAG Educational Specialist, shared, “The job shadowing portion was so informational and beneficial, because it not only allowed me to learn about ADM and its jobs, but also got me thinking about all of the other jobs I can teach my students about that are related to and required to go from farm-to-table.

Results in the Classroom
As a result of ADM’s contributions to iJAG, Specialists are able to create relevant projects for their students to learn in the classroom, and more students have become interested in agricultural careers. In addition to the job shadowing opportunities for the Specialists, a plant manager with ADM and participating Specialists give joint presentations to classes of iJAG students in the participating areas of Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. The students were very engaged in the presentations, a pleasant surprise to iJAG Specialists. The students had in depth questions about contracts with farmers, product distribution and storage, as well as general employment questions, creating new excitement for staff, students, and employers.

“It makes me proud to know the largest corn milling operations in the world is right here in Cedar Rapids,” remarked iJAG Educational Specialist Tyler Walker. “It is easy to see how our iJAG students could transition from school right into the ADM workforce. These jobs are not like working in a fast food restaurant, as they are lifelong careers with opportunities for a great quality of life.”

ADM invested both the time and talent of the managers and department employees, and provided funding for a post-secondary scholarship at each of the four schools involved as well as additional funds for the students to use in their local and state-wide iJAG Career Association activities. iJAG has taken this model and is using it to redesign their process for employer engagement.

“ADM has worked with many JAG organizations across the country, and it’s so rewarding to see the results in boosting graduation, employment, college enrollment and overall success rates for young people, especially in Iowa where ADM has several processing plants and facilities,” said Heidi Hoefer, human resources representative at ADM and one of the local LINC program coordinators. “We are proud to participate in and sponsor iJAG’s program.”

“When we engage both the iJAG Education Specialists and the students with employers like ADM we are having a significant impact on their collective career awareness. Then our instruction begins to come alive as do more students! The result is a motivated and informed workforce for the future,” stated Laurie Phelan, iJAG President/CEO.



“We worked so hard and had so much fun, I just had to frame my leather gloves in a shadow box.”
~ iJAG Educational Specialist