Where Are They Now? Kirsten Backes, '17 grad

March 7, 2019

Kirsten Backes is a recent 2017 graduate. She is now located in Woodland, California where she is an associate in the Production and Supply Development Program for Syngenta, a rotational leadership development programs for college graduates. Each rotation is one year long, and so far she has completed two of the three years. Kirsten’s first rotation was in Waterloo, NE in seed corn operations. Her second rotation is happening right now in Woodland, CA in vegetable production, and her final rotation will be in Slater, IA in seed production research and digital technology. Her job duties vary from site to site. Kirsten has worked hands-on to produce, condition, and ship seed, supervised third party labor, and attended stakeholder meetings to strategize and solve production problems. The purpose of the PSDP is to give each associate a breadth of experience in production and supply so that he/she is prepared for a leadership position within Syngenta.

Kirsten’s favorite part of her job is the endless opportunities she is provided to develop her leadership skills and expanding her network, while also learning technical skills on the job.

“Not only did the Department of Agronomy offer a great educational experience, but it also encouraged me to develop as a professional through resume building, career fair preparation, and networking events, such as the agronomy career mixer,” Kirsten said about how the Department of Agronomy prepared her for this role.

Her favorite experience during her time at ISU was participating in Dr. Mullen’s study abroad course to Panama.  Kirsten was involved with Agronomy Club, she helped with the 4-H Experience Agronomy Event, attended SASES meetings in Wisconsin and Texas, and participated in many volunteer events. Not only was she involved with Agronomy Club, but she also participated in the Iowa State University Corn Growers Association and ISU Optimist club, now known as Ames Community and Youth Club. Kirsten is now a member of the American Society of Agronomy, and recently passed her Certified Crop Adviser exams!

Her advice for current students: College is a time in your life where you have endless access to educational resources and relationships to build your network.  Take full advantage of this and get involved in every way you can.