A Bright Outlook for Sugarbeet Production

Syngenta Awards $5,000: Supports the Future of Agriculture

Published online: Dec 29, 2010 Feature staff report
Viewed 778 time(s)
Grant Winner: Grant Stevenson

Hometown: Paul, Idaho

University: College of Southern Idaho

Major: Agri-Business

Q and A with Grant Stevenson

1) Why have you chosen Agri-Business for your career?

I would have to say ever since I was a little boy riding with my dad in the tractor I have always wanted to be a farmer. It has its positives and negatives and it can be a very stressfull job especially in this economy and the crazy weather changes we've had all year long. Also, not knowing if your crops are going to survive it or not. But there's just something about it that I love. I have spent some time on a pig feedlot and a few other different part-time jobs and they just weren't the same as the farm I don't know if its just being out in the world all the time or just all the people you have the opportunity to meet or all the crazy things that happen on the farm. It's just always been my dream to have a career in or related somehow to agriculture specifically farming.

2) What specific direction will you go with your hard-earned degree?

I want to continue on with schooling at Utah State and get a Bachelors degree in Accounting and maybe a Masters in Agri-business or Agri-science but I want to come back and eventually purchase and take over the family farm with other family members. The family rule states that before I can come back I have to earn a four-year degree and use it for two years somewhere else so I know how to use my degree. Then if for some reason the farm went broke I will understand from an employee standpoint.

3) What message do you have for students/young people today as they choose to attend college or not? What advice would you give them?

Well I'm not going to lie. It's everything but easy! It's a whole different world compared to high school. For all those kids or people who disliked high school and all the classes that made them feel like they couldn't find anything they would like, I can almost guarantee there will be something in college likeable. In this world you just can't cut it with out a college degree. If you have plans for a family you might want to put college somewhere in those plans. My advice would be never give up because it will all be worth it one day. Also, study very hard because like I said college is everything but easy!

4) What do you see for the future of sugarbeet production?

In this community you could go back to growing conventional seed if necessary. But it's just too expensive between the cost of labor, the fact that the chemicals used for weed control aren't made anymore and the costly trips across the field cultivating or spraying.
With conventional seed, in the fall you could still have a mess of weeds even after spraying properly and cultivating. With Roundup Ready you have a nice clean field in the fall and we only cultivate to corrigate the rows and spray herbicide twice. I could really see seed varieties that are resistant to insects and pests. They have already developed corn and wheat that are.

A variety that was frost resistant would be nice. I know that would save my dad and uncle a lot of money because it seems like no matter how late or early we plant we always end up re-planting because the plants freeze. In general, I hope to see sugarbeet production as the major part of our community-with a sugar factory right in our town of Paul, ID.
If that plant was closed down I honestly think that could be the end of our little community. I really don't know what to expect next-it's definitely an ever-changing industry and I'm sure there will be major changes coming.

5) What does it mean to you that Syngenta has invested in your future, believing in you, your talents and the promise for the future of agriculture?

Wow, it really meant the world to me! Even though this is a pretty agriculturally dominated community, there weren't many scholarships related to agriculture. It really means alot that someone wants me to be involved in agriculture because the world is growing and someone is going to have to feed everyone.
There's always going to be a demand for farmers and it seems like it's a dying crop. Fewer and fewer people want to farm. I know in my graduating class of all the kids that grew up on a farm, a dairy or in agriculture in general only a select few want to come back and farm. Alot of the world acts like agriculture isn't something important. I sometimes tell people I want to be a farmer and they would just kind of laugh and give me the whole story of, "Oh, you're not going to make any money doing that...farmers are always poor or going bankrupt." I have my own opinion on it and they are wrong.

6) How did you feel and what did you think when you realized you had won the scholarship?

I thought it was a joke at first because I couldn't believe it. The results were suppose to be sent in the mail in August. Then September came and the Hilleshog rep., who happens to be my distant cousin, called and said he wanted to set up a lunch deal and go over the essay I wrote so I really didn't know what to think then.
The day came, I got to the restaurant and there were three guys with my cousin and two from Syngenta. I was really wondering what was going on and we sat down and they asked me a few questions about my essay and discussed a few things and then they said, "Well, Grant, it was a good essay...it made it pretty far," and then he handed me a letter that said I had won the scholarship.
I had to read it three times and I think my first words where are you kidding me this is unreal. Out of all the kids in America I won it! It was a crazy feeling, $5,000 will get me a long, long way at CSI.

7) Describe your experiences growing up on a farm, your family influence and any individuals who may have inspired you in your choice.

My experiences started with riding in the grain planter with my dad. That's one of the oldest memory I can remember. But throughout my life I was always with my dad on the farm or around the shop helping the guys with anything. I started out as just giving them someone to talk to, a little helper to go get tools or parts as they needed.
As I got older they gave me more and more responsibilities. When I was 12 my dad had me and my two younger brothers, who where 10 and 7, move a small field of hand-lines by ourselves. The thing I remember the most is that the grain was so tall and I was so short that I had to hold the hand-line above my head to get it to clear the grain and my two brothers had to pick one end up together to get it up high enough.

I remember the spring of my junior year in high school dad had me planting beets the night of prom. We where trying to get the last of them in before a rain storm so I had the opportunity to take the night shift in the planter.
I spent alot of time running tractors at night. I remember many nights on the weekend discing or chisleplowing. but the thing I think I have the most experience with is maintaining pivots. I don't think I can count how many tires I've changed or gearboxes I've changed, or how many times I've hiked into a field at six in the morning to shovel out a stuck wheel.
My brother and I made it an art to change a gear-box. We had a whole routine down and we would time ourselves because we thought we were that good.

My hobbies are skiing, snowboarding and dirt-bike riding. I also participated a lot in FFA. I was the chapter president my senior year and I was a gold metal finalist in specialty-crop production placement at the state level. I was a silver finalist at nationals.
I think my family is a pretty strong influence on me wanting to get involved in agriculture. I know my father is a third generation farmer so its in my blood but other people have influenced me as well. I can't really say there was an exact moment that it occurred to me that agriculture is the road I wanted to take because it all just kind of added to itself and I just realized I liked all of it and everything about it.

I want to thank Syngenta again for supporting me and giving me this opportunity. Never in my life would I ever have even dreamed this would happen to me. I would also like to thank all my friends, family, school teachers, FFA advisors, church leaders, my parents and my little brothers. Even though they still drive me insane, I want them to know how much a truly appreciate them and all the help they have given me. Even though I may not show it all the time I do appreciate you all.
The farm is home to some of my fondest and craziest memories. People would never think that those would be in the vocabulary of a farmer but we do some crazy things on the farm. From smashing your fingers to breaking bones to concussions, we've had our fair share of it all and every incident has a crazy story behind it that we all laugh about today. It's certainly an interesting, adventurous life. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

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