JOBS for AMERICA'S GRADUATES

Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates Connects to ADM

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is a global leader in agricultural processing.   As one of the world largest processors of soybeans, corn, wheat, and coco, ADM produces value added food and feed ingredients that supply our nation and the rest of the world with products for healthier living.

The leadership ADM exemplifies as an agri-business continues in their goal to develop a future workforce.  Putting their words into action, recently ADM established a new program entitled Learn,Innovate, Network, and Cultivate or LINC for short.  The goal of the program is to establish partnerships with local educators to create a connection for students from high school to a career at ADM.  iJAG was made aware of LINC through a partnership with the national JAG organization and took advantage of the offer to connect locally in Iowa.  It was from this point that things started to happen. 

With Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) connecting to ADM (LINC) it was our belief we could create a dynamic duo; together changing 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.  We discovered that the impact for the group of students touring was great and they learned more about the company.  However, we were only impacting a few students at a time.  We were not reaching enough students and we were not changing the vantage point of our teachers, (iJAG Specialists), related to business and industry and specifically career in agriculture.  The LINC effort allowed us an opportunity to change that view.  For one week iJAG educational specialists across Iowa participated in the week-long informational seminar.  The seminar was designed to help educators have a better understanding of the company and the expectations of the workplace.  The goals were:  (1) to help bridge the gap in what is known about ADM as a manufacturer and what student and educators think they know about ADM and manufacturing, (2) help students have an understanding about careers in agri-business.  During that week a shift took place for our iJAG Specialists that is having a positive impact on our instruction to hundreds of students in Iowa and Illinois; a budding workforce.

On day one of the seminar iJAG Specialists were equipped with appropriate safety equipment prior to their immersion experiences throughout ADM.  Plant managers and ADM staff shared  Educational Specialist, Sarah Clark added, “The job shadowing portion was so informational and beneficial, because it not only allowed me to learn about ADM and their jobs, but also got me thinking about all of the other jobs related to and required to go from farm-to-table.”

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.  This started with a joint presentation by the ADM Plant Manager and iJAG Specialists to classes of iJAG students in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.  Students engaged in ways not predicted.  In depth questions about contracts with farmers, product distribution and storage, as well as questions that were employment related including, “How do I apply”.  This is creating both a 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, IA, “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, as well as provided funding for a post-secondary scholarship at each of the four schools involved and funding 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.  “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.