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I-LEAD Class 8

I-LEAD Class 8 started their two-year journey in November 2016. The class includes farmers, educators, agribusiness and governmental leaders from across the state. 

International Trade Mission

In March of 2017, the I-LEAD Class 8 will travel internationally to look at export market development for many of Iowa’s major agricultural products (corn, soybeans, ethanol, livestock), and develop an understanding of five key topics:

  • Determine concerns and opportunities to increase exports of U.S. agricultural products to their country.
  • Evaluate how current infrastructure affects U.S. agriculture imports.
  • Identify regulatory and policy barriers to trade.
  • Recognize potential ways or policies that would increase trade.
  • Experience and understand agricultural practices in another country.

I-LEAD will work with government officials and key export-oriented organizations to design an aggressive itinerary. Target activities include meetings with grain and ethanol importers, feed manufacturers and major livestock industry representatives. 

I-LEAD Class 8 Members

Alyssa Amelon


As the Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at Keota Jr. /Sr. High School, Alyssa teaches seven different agriculture classes daily, ranging in grades from seventh to twelve grade with topics ranging from Ag Metals, Ag Construction, Ag Business and Animal and Plant Science. She also supervises the FFA Land Lab...

Adam Bierbaum


Currently pursuing his Master Degree in Agronomy at Iowa State University, Adam farms with his family on their century farm near Griswold. He is a former member of the Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT) and is active on the Cass County Corn Growers Board and serves as an Iowa...

Malanie Bloom


Melanie serves as a Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) writer and has a Master’s Degree from Iowa State University in Agricultural Education. Her husband farms in Buena Vista County.

Rich Crow


Rich is an Assistant Professor of Agronomy in the Applied Ag and Food Studies Program at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. In his position he is responsible for developing, planning, and teaching coursework in Agronomy and General Ag Studies.

Mike Dierickx

Long Grove

Mike and his wife operate a farm in Long Grove where they grow corn and soybeans. He also assists his parents with the daily operation of their farm as well as manages a custom application business emphasizing in late season nitrogen application and fungicide applications.

Molly Dolch


As a high school teacher at West Central Valley High school in Stuart, Molly teaches about food, agriculture, plants, welding and agricultural mechanics. She also advises the school’s FFA chapter and school garden.

Wade Kent


Wade is a Central Iowa field agronomist for Beck’s Superior Hybrids providing agronomic and product training to the Beck’s sales team as well as working dealers and customers for product placement and agronomy support throughout the year.

Katie Kramer


Katie serves as the Executive Director of the Jasper County USDA- Farm Service Agency Office. Her primary responsibility is directing and managing government programs put into law by the farm bill.

Keaton Krueger


As an Agriculture Technology Specialist for Winfield US, Keaton’s primary role is to support his company’s partnered and proprietary ag technology tools at the ground level. Much of his time is spent working with local retail agronomists and growers, training them on how to use ag technology to improve production...

Andrew Lauver

Rockwell City

Currently pursuing his Masters of Agribusiness Degree at Kansas State University, Andrew also farms on his fifth generation family farm in Rockwell City.

TJ Masker


T.J. works directly with farmers to help them utilize agronomic data to make better input decisions in his role as Agronomic Information Advisor at Premier Crop Systems, LLC.

Elyssa McFarland


As the Soil Health Partnership Iowa Field Manager, Elyssa manages the coordination of research plots and data collection as well as maintaining relationships with SHP network farmers, partnering with local organizations, and communicating SHP goals and results. She also farms 170 acres in a corn-soybean rotation independently and participates in...

TJ Page

Des Moines

TJ serves as Iowa Corn Market Development Manager managing the organization’s programs related to livestock, ethanol, and exports.

Paul Nees


Paul serves as the Director of the Operations at REG, a producer of biodiesel and bio-chemicals. He is responsible for commodity risk management and hedging, market analysis and ensuring optimum communication to the operations and leadership teams.

Kale Peterson


Kale is a Grain Merchandiser at River Valley Coop in Eldridge. In his role, he assists farmers with marketing corn and soybeans, and makes sales to end users.

Mike Poeppe


Mike works for Ritch Berkland Seed Sales helping with sales, delivery and treatments for all customers. He currently serves as the Palo Alto Corn Growers President.

Tara Pralle


Tara works as a Magnify Territory Manager for Farm Credit Services of America in Central Iowa. She educates farmers on Magnify, a revolutionary ag management tool the delivers a whole new view of profitability. Her husband farms in Franklin County and is a Beck’s Hybrid Seed dealer.

Joel Pudenz


Serving as a Grain Marketing Advisor for Landus Cooperative, Joel assists local farmers in marketing and logistical opportunities to add value to their operations.

Brent Schwenneker


Brent manages the Monsanto Huxley Learning Center which hosts more than 6,000 guests every year. He also currently farms more than 800 acres with his brother in Audubon and Guthrie Counties.

Evan Sieck

Council Bluffs

Evan is a real estate salesperson at Jim Hughes Real Estate in Glenwood. Evan is a graduate of Iowa Corn’s CAT team program.

Stacey Webster


As Director of Cooperative Development at the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Stacey works to enhance her the success of their members providing them resources, education and training.

Ben Whaley


Ben is the Senior Research Associate for Pioneer Hi-Bred International managing 30 corn and 28 soybean test plots in the Northeast Iowa Territory.

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