At times not realizing what a person does not know can be more important to their success than concentrating on what they do know.
That was one of the many lessons Sacred Heart junior Britton Mergen discovered during his Sedalia FIT internship with Kevin Daniel, general manager of the local MFA Agriculture Services facility.
“I have loved every minute of my time here,” Mergen said April 29 when interviewed by the Democrat. “I have to be honest though, I really had no idea about all of the career opportunities that are available in a business like MFA.
“I have always had in interest in agriculture,” he added “Kevin has been really good about helping me see the options that are here. There is a lot more to this company than I realized.”
Daniel, who has been with MFA for 26 years and is a member of the Sedalia FIT Board, said that was an important aspect that he wanted to focus on when accepting an intern in the program.
“I think one of the big misconceptions or misunderstandings about the FIT program by many is that these students are coming into the program to do what many people would call ‘grunt work,’ like mowing grass or things like that,” Daniel said. “That’s not what it’s about at all. I wanted to make sure that the students who come here are given the upper-level view of what happens here so they know what we are all about.
“I think it’s my responsibility to let them know as many options as I can while they are here,” he added. “It’s important for them to discover if what they are doing is something they don’t like because that can also be very beneficial.”
Mergen commented on the various aspects of the company he saw firsthand through his internship.
“I realize now that they are a complete ag service, they handle buying and selling grain and seeds, working as a feed driver to spraying crops and surveying fields,” Mergen said. “But there are so many other options here.
“Kevin and I talked about the fact that the company hires attorneys, accountants, veterinarians, engineers, nutritionists for livestock, IT specialists and human resource personnel and that isn’t everyone,” Mergen added. “There’s the entire retail side of the business and management as well.”
Daniel commented that completing a degree in agronomy or ag business is beneficial for positions in the company that is based in Columbia.
Mergen said he has not made any solid decisions yet concerning his college choices, but commented that the time he has spent talking to Daniels and other employees has helped to level the playing field in his choices.
“I come from a farming family,” Mergen said. “Mr. (Ed) Watkins (who helps place Sedalia FIT students) knew that I worked cattle and after my test and interview he suggested that I come here to MFA.
“Being here this week has only increased my interest in the field,” Mergen said. “I’m learning firsthand what it takes to operate a business like this, I just wish I had more time here.”
The time away from a week’s classwork is not a major concern of Mergen’s.
“In most of my classes, juniors are the majority of the students and are teachers have taken it a little easy on the amount of work they have assigned,” Mergen said. “I do have some work that I know I will have to make up especially in my dual credit classes.
“The benefits from this make up for any extra class time I may have to put in to get my homework done though,” Mergen added.
Near the completion of his internship, Mergen said working in the agriculture industry after college is a strong possibility.
That is a statement Daniel was pleased to hear.
“The program helps us (the businesses) just as much as the students,” Daniels said. “It’s good on the business side because we can expose them to possibilities that they may not have been aware of.
“We do like to hire local individuals because they tend to know the area and the needs of our consumers,” Daniel added. “I hope Brit learned something while he was here, I know I certainly have. I think that the time that we can invest in these students and their goals is priceless.”
Mergen would agree.
“My internship has been priceless,” Mergen said. “The fact that Kevin was willing to give up his time makes it possible.
“We really hit it off well and everyone here has been incredibly helpful,” he added. “The fact that they were willing to put it all out there for me to learn has definitely given me a better idea of what I will do with my life.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484