R.D. Offutt Farms hires a new agronomist and three agronomy interns for the 2023 growing season

Annika Merkens is a recent graduate from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in agronomy and precision agriculture. Merkens has worked closely with RDO for the past four summers as a field scout and agronomy intern and was recently hired as an agronomist for the RDO Park Rapids Farm. Her favorite thing about working with RDO is the research partnerships with North Dakota State University and Syngenta. Merkens is looking forward to continuing her work throughout the farms as well as supporting the new interns.

Courtney Houghton is a senior at University of Wisconsin- Platteville majoring in soil and crop science with an emphasis in agronomy. Houghton credits her passion for agriculture to the National FFA organization, which led to opportunities such as corn and soybean scouting. However, before graduation, she wants to expand her career to other agronomic productions.

“RDO Farms offered an interesting agronomy experience in a new crop system for me. I hope to learn more about potato production while expanding my overall knowledge in the agriculture industry”.

Houghton will be working at the RDO Park Rapids Farm.

Riley Peterson is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Peterson grew up gardening with her grandparents, which sparked an initial interest in horticulture. After choosing to major in plant science, Peterson was exposed to a soil research opportunity with Dr. Carl Rosen and is looking forward to learning more about agronomy this summer with RDO. “I really hope to learn more about what goes into being an agronomist, and what the day-to-day work entails. I’d love to learn more about the health and well-being of one of our most important crops,” Peterson said.

Peterson will be working at the RDO Wadena Farm.

Katelyn Mack is a junior at University of Minnesota – Crookston majoring in animal science and agronomy. Although Mack didn’t grow up on a farm, she has been inspired by organizations such as National FFA to be an advocate for agriculture. After graduating, Mack hopes to work as an agronomist or as an AI technician in Bovine. Through this internship she hopes to gain hands on learning experience in research.

“This summer, I am hoping to learn and gain a better understanding of how to improve crop yields and find solutions through trials that are conducted”.

Mack will be working at the RDO Perham Farm.

Nick David, RDO Midwest Regional Agronomist, said interns will work with the agronomy team and farm and warehouse managers, along with industry experts at Syngenta and university professors who support the potato industry.

“During 8-12 weeks on the farm, our interns will learn about nutritional value and sustainability of the potato, crop development, insect, weed and disease scouting, soil sampling, petiole sampling and social responsibility in agriculture," David said. "Additionally, interns will complete an individual agronomy project as required by each university.”