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(November 2017 Newsletter) Turning an Interest in Agriculture into a Career

By Nhan Pham

EHS - Ian McGregor is known to some as the “Corn Kid,” but don’t let the nickname fool you. McGregor is all business. In fact, this Eastmont High School junior is well on his way to becoming a master of his corn- growing craft. One bushel at a time.

In just a few short years, McGregor has found the gumption to grow his own corn, sell it, compete and win awards, and network with some agriculture industry bigwigs.

“This kid is a corn guru,” said Jeff DeJarnett, a plant biology teacher at Eastmont Junior High School and an FFA adviser in the district. Two years ago, McGregor was a student of DeJarnett’s class. Even back then, McGregor displayed interest in growing corn and potatoes.

From there, McGregor experienced a meteoric rise. Thanks to encouragement from mentors like DeJarnett, McGregor entered his crops into local fairs and became grand champion.Even back then, it was clear McGregor had a real knack for this field. DeJarnett saidMcGregor quickly learned many ins and outs of the industry, grasping concepts like moisture levels in different types of corn. For someone his age, McGregor was certainly ahead of the curve in terms of agriscience knowledge.

Not only that, a lot of this McGregor taught himself.

“He has a better awareness about the corn industry than some agriculture teachers,” DeJarnett said.

DeJarnett said he believes McGregor is an incredible individual who is humble about his achievements. For someone so young, FFA advisers often comment how McGregor already has knowledge worthy of an industry veteran despite his age.

There is no doubt, DeJarnett said, that McGregor has a promising future ahead of him in agriculture.

But for now, it’s still one bushel of corn at a time, plenty of accolades to collect and lots more to learn from the industry for McGregor. He is still a junior in high school, after all.

“I wish I could clone him,” DeJarnett said. “He showcases what we want to strive for in the FFA classroom.”

We chatted with McGregor for a corny Q&A:

Well, I was around 10 or 11 and I planted only about 80 corn plants. And I liked to crop more than the other things. So the next year, all I planted was corn, and it has been getting bigger every year.

2. Who nicknamed you “Corn Kid?”My FFA advisers.

My FFA advisers.

3. Where do you currently grow your corn?

Doug and Jan Bromiley had a piece of irrigated ground by their home that they let me grow the corn on this year. Also, I planted some at my uncle Scott Kane’sproperty and our orchard in RockIsland. I planted Russet Burbank potatoes at my house.

4. How often do you grow your corn throughout the year? During a given week? Do you work on growing corn before/after school/both?

Generally aim to plant as early as possible to try to get your sweet corn in before your competition. This year was the first time I had grown sweet corn and was a big success, I had been growing grain corn test plots in years past. I also had started planting russet potatoes and have received great help from Quincy farmers, Rex and Melva Calloway. Potatoes are planted earlier than corn by a long shot.

5. Do you sell your corn or bring it to places like school to share with others?

I was able to sell all of my sweet corn to White Trail fruit stand in Quincy this season. Also to friends and family.

6. What are your immediate goals with your corn growing?

I want to keep growing as much as I can to learn as much as I can for future use. Randy Dowdy a very successful farmer from Valdosta, GA has been an inspiration for me to keep doing this.

7. After graduating high school, do you intend to take your corn-growing interest even further (e.g., college education, apprenticeship, etc.)?

Yes, I want to be a field rep for DuPont Pioneer, DeKalb or the McGregor company.

8. When not growing corn, what are your other hobbies/interests? 

I very much like hunting and shooting trap.

9. Do you have an ultimate dream you would like to accomplish with your corn growing?

I would like to enter a yield contest the National Corn Growers Association puts on every year called the National Corn Yield Contest. This is a yield contest with grain corn where growers from across the nation compete to produce as many bushels per acre that is possible for grain corn. Last year, Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy hit a new world record of 521.39 bushels per acre. That’s a lot of corn. A bushel of corn is roughly give or take 55 to 60 lbs.

10. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank all the people who make my project possible:

Doug, Scott, Jason and Jan Bromiley

The McGregor Company

Monsanto

Kevin Zander with DeKalb

Doug Barns with Seminis Seeds

Brian and Darren Hefty

Melva and Rex Calloway

Washington State Potato Commission

Wilbur Ellis Basin West

All my FFA advisers

Ron Baugher with Crop Production Services

Augie Kooistra of Augie’s Ag Sales Ephrata

Brian Lewis and Chad Record with

DuPont Pioneer

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