August 2020

For many graduate students at Iowa State University (ISU) and across the nation, the coronavirus pandemic interrupted more class time than any other event in U.S. history. However, for the students enrolled in the ISU Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business (STB) the disruptive effects of Covid-19 were minimized. Since its inception in 2007, the STB program curriculum‒offered completely online‒not only allows graduate students to earn their master’s degree from anywhere in the world but also accommodates the demanding schedules of professionals already working full-time in the seed industry.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the STB program had the honor of congratulating three recent graduates:

Craig Hamm
Beaumont, Texas

Our most recent graduate, Craig Hamm, is the District Sales Manager for RiceTec Inc, which is based out of Alvin, Texas. His sales district encompasses the Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana rice-growing region. For his final oral defense ‒delivered in July via Zoom‒Craig developed a global and domestic rice market analysis. From this detailed analysis, Craig created a three-year sales strategy for his market segment.

Craig started the STB program in the spring of 2016 and was a great asset to the STB program, bringing a vast amount of knowledge about the rice industry to share with fellow students. Craig appreciated the flexible nature of the STB program, which allowed him to continue to work full-time while obtaining his Masters of Science degree. “I found the curriculum to be well structured and relevant to what I do in the seed industry. The online learning platform allowed me the flexibility to work around my schedule and the instructors were quick to respond to questions and concerns. This is a great program for those looking to take their education in agriculture to the next level.”

“This is a great program for those looking to take their education in agriculture to the next level.”  – Craig Hamm, STB Graduate

Josh Prow
Phillips, Nebraska

In the middle of the summer semester Josh Prow also delivered a successful final oral defense presentation via Zoom.
Josh has worked for Syngenta for the past six years and is currently the Plant Operations Manager in Phillips, Nebraska.

Josh took the lead on a special project with the goal of reconfiguring how his company collected live field data for their production facility. He was then able to document this work project for the purposes of his final creative component in the STB program. Within his final project Josh detailed the process of the redesign and its impact on improved seed production efficiency.

Josh started the STB program in the summer of 2017. He appreciated how easy and flexible the faculty were to work with in the program. Making connections and learning from other students in the program proved to be one of the biggest strengths of the STB program for Josh. “Getting my degree through the STB program felt like I was part of a team that consisted of the top candidates in the seed industry today. It was a great opportunity to network in the industry, along with sharing ideas and perspectives with a group of people who have a diverse background.”

“Getting my degree through the STB program felt like I was part of a team that consisted of the top candidates in the seed industry today.”  – Josh Prow, STB Graduate

Enock Maereka
Norton, Zimbabwe, Africa.

Enock Maereka understands how valuable international experience can be. From Zimbabwe, one of Enock’s major objectives as a professional in the seed industry in Africa is to ensure farmers benefit from modern genetics. Working with legumes specifically, he has noticed there is a tendency to keep varieties for decades. Enock believes that the education of African farmers is a work in progress, but is something he will continue to work on in the years to come.

You can read more about Enock’s story here:

“The more I learned about agricultural production systems, the more curious I got. I soon realized that seed can be a key entry point to fighting global challenges: food and nutrition insecurity, poverty, and climate change.” –  Enock Maereka, STB Graduate

We commend and congratulate each of these recent STB graduates for their perseverance to complete their goals despite the health crisis and economic chaos happening in the world around them.

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