James Kennedy, a Genoa-Kingston High School Graduate is now living in Hampshire, Illinois with his wife Allison, and 20-month-old daughter as well as a 3-month-old son. James has been employed as an agronomist with Advanced Crop Care since February 2008 and is now titled a Senior Agronomist.
Bridget: What made you want to become an Agronomist, and how did you get there?
James: When I grew up, I grew up removed from agriculture. Throughout high school, I took agriculture classes and became very interested in the agriculture industry and opportunities within. I decided to attend Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture Education since I didn’t know what area of Agriculture I liked best- Ag. Ed. gave me a wide area to study. Both the summer after freshman year and sophomore year I spent interning with Advanced Crop Care. Then my junior year summer I interned with an independent corn research company in Iowa. Upon graduating I had 2 job interviews- 1 for teaching and 1 with Advanced Crop Care. I chose Advanced Crop Care.
Bridget: What would you say is a day-to-day role of being an agronomist for Advanced Crop Care?
James: I like to think of my job in terms of thirds. One-third of the time- such as in the winter months, us agronomists spend a solid 2-3 weeks attending classes and seminars put on by different Universities. Attending these seminars is required for all of the Advanced Crop Care employees to maintain Crop Advisor Certification. Another third of my time is spent soil sampling. Here, I am pulling samples and sending to the lab to figure out the needs for the growers of that field with that soil. The last of the third is the crop scouting part, where I am physically in the fields and hit every farm. I see the different insects, weeds, and help the farmer find the most economical ways to assess the needs of each individual field.
Bridget: What is the most rewarding part of your career?
James: A lot of things in my career have been extremely rewarding. From a professional standpoint, it is rewarding to know that it is the growers’ option to hire me year-in and year-out. It is nice to know that I am doing things that make sense for both the grower and the ground, making them want me back. That is extremely rewarding. But most of all the most rewarding part of my job is picking up brand new customers. It is always great to build new relationships.
Bridget: What are good skills needed to be a good Agronomist? What about to become a senior Agronomist?
James: From my perspective, people are hearing sales pitches from people all of the time. With Advanced Crop Care, we help the growers with sifting through facts and fiction. We understand the growers’ farms, goals, and have to help their fields reach potentials. We are an independent company that wants the best for the grower- to set their farms up for success. As for being a senior Agronomist, you start out as an entry-level agronomist and work your way up. Each individual has 1-2 Interns under them that help tremendously during the summer months. Being a senior agronomist means not only do I work with my customer base, but I have other employees under me and help them manage/maintain their customer base, as well as interns on top of that. It is a lot more responsibility on top of managing my own customer base.
Bridget: Do you think young people should be considering a career in Agriculture?
James: Yes. I am a prime example- I came with a background removed from production Agriculture, and look at me now. There are so many different aspects to being a part of the agriculture industry; the opportunities are endless.
Iowa State University