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September 21
National Teach Ag Day Celebrates Current and Future Teachers

By: Eric Moser 

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Happy National Teach Ag Day to all current, previous and future agriculture teachers out there!

Today marks the eighth annual National Teach Ag Day, which is a celebration through the National Teach Ag Campaign. National Teach Ag Day was created to help celebrate current agriculture teachers, to promote the profession and to encourage students to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher. ​

The National Teach Ag Campaign is an initiative of the National Council for Agricultural Education, and is managed through the National Association for Agricultural Educators. 

The National Teach Ag Campaign is able to operate because of our  sponsors: DuPont Pioneer, CHS Foundation, BASF and Growth Energy. The campaign’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to recruit and retain quality and diverse agriculture teachers. They also strive to encourage others to teach agriculture and to celebrate the positive contributions that agriculture teachers make in their schools and community.​

Agriculture teachers are the formal instructors of agricultural education in secondary schools; which teaches students about many subjects including agriculture, food and natural resources. They play a huge role in the industry, as they are able to work with a wide variety of students and help shape the next generation of leaders in agriculture.

Currently, there is a high demand for agriculture teachers from a combination of new positions being created, and teachers retiring, moving schools, or leaving the profession. This demand is currently exceeding the amount of newly licensed agriculture education students, which has caused programs to either close or to be filled with an alternatively certified or non-licensed teacher. 

Although there is this large demand for teachers, the campaign still takes time to recognize the 12,300+ teachers currently teaching through events like National Teach Ag Day. 

So for any of you who have ever been in an agricultural classroom, or know an agriculture teacher, I encourage you to show them your appreciation for all they do! Agriculture teachers play many roles inside and outside of the classroom, and take on many responsibilities to help educate others about agriculture. ​

Eric Moser is a Michigan State University student in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education and serving as a National Teach Ag Ambassador and is a past GreenStone scholarship recipient

September 19
Proud Supporter: Fulton Public Schools Greenhouse and Aquaponics Project

​By: Jennifer Whitford, finanical services officer at GreenStone's Alma branch

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Our GreenStone branch is a proud supporter of the Fulton Public Schools project where one teacher is going above and beyond getting students involved in hands-on, agricultural learning experiences.

Jeremy Winsor, a life science teacher at Fulton High School, started an in-class aquaponics program that has now grown to need a larger home. Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, meaning the waste produced by the fish in the system feeds the nutrients to the plants being grown hydroponically. Winsor started the current campaign to raise money for the construction of a greenhouse. This building will hold the aquaponics system, as well as create a classroom space for other horticulture programs, with hopes of expanding curriculum through all levels of the Fulton School District.

This project is especially exciting to me personally because of the opportunities it will create for the students passing through the greenhouse. I have been involved in agriculture my entire life and digging in the dirt could sometimes be taken for granted. For a small community school to give students a unique learning opportunity to take with them and help shape their high school experience is priceless.

The project is moving along quickly. When we recently spoke, Winsor said:

“In June we reached full funding due to a number of last minute donations. This past July, the school board approved the use of money from the sinking fund for the construction of a slab foundation with two inch brick side walls. That portion of the structure was completed the middle part of August. We ordered the prefabricated building last month and are anxiously awaiting its arrival. We are hoping to have construction complete by the end of September. Thank you again for your support of this project. I am amazed by the community support and donations that we have received.” 

Long-term goals for the greenhouse and aquaponics program include potentially obtaining a license to sell the fish for either food or pond stocking. In addition, the greenhouse will allow for more varieties of crops to be grown, harvested and potentially sold. Winsor also hopes to bring an agriscience curriculum and FFA program back to Fulton Schools after a 20 plus year absence. 

If the students only take the experience with them as a memory, or if it creates an environment that sparks a new interest in learning, I feel it’s fully worth the investment in the future of our workforce.

Interested in getting involved or learning more? Contact Jeremy Winsor at winsorje@fultonpirates.net​ or Fulton Public Schools at 989-236-7232. Also, be sure to visit Winsor’s school page at www.fultonpirates.net/page/837 and look for updates on the Fulton High School’s Facebook page​


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September 15
Credit Reports and Equifax Data Breach Resources

​Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., announced a data breach that affects 143 million consumers. There are several resources available to assist consumers on learning more about the breach, understanding the process to report suspicious credit report activity, and identifying ways to protect yourself, one of which includes the USA.gov website.

Specifically regarding the Equifax data breach, more information and resources can be found here: https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports#item-213707.

September 14
Intern Insights: Goals and Aspirations

By: Jordan Zimmerman

​I am currently attending Saginaw Valley State University and the first time I heard about GreenStone was at an internship fair on campus. The staff member I met really sold me on joining the GreenStone team and this internship has far exceeded my expectations! 

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I am excited to say that I will be graduating December 2017 with a degree in accounting and a minor in finance. This type of degree can lead you to many different careers. From audit to tax to corporate accounting, there are a variety of pathways. As a college junior, I had no idea which road was for me. I have always known that I wanted a career in the business field and I was sold on accounting after I took my first college course. 

Since I started my first internship in January, GreenStone has given me knowledge in a wide array of fields. I have acquired the skills to complete bookkeeping and payroll duties for various types of businesses, learned tax reforms, and enhanced my office capabilities. Part of the culture at GreenStone is to get involved with customers and the community. I have been able to visit two separate dairy farms, as well as help clerk a livestock auction at a local county fair.​

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One of the best things about being a part of GreenStone is the people. During my internship, I have had the privilege of working at a branch and also at the headquarters in East Lansing. In both offices, and any of the locations I visited, everyone is kind, accepting and willing to help.  


To anyone interested in an opportunity at GreenStone, I would strongly encourage them to pursue it! The experience and vast resources available have not only helped me to improve as a hopeful accountant, but also as a person.


Jordan Zimmerman is a tax and accounting intern with GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

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September 12
Understanding Operating Loans

By: Martin Kasperski

Farming is a capital-intensive business, with land, equipment and facilities that can run into millions of dollars. Beyond these capital expenses, farmers face annual input costs for seed, fuel, chemicals, etc. These inputs are often needed at the beginning of the growing season and paid for with proceeds from the sale of crops months in the future. To bridge this gap, many farmers utilize an operating loan, which is a revolving line of credit for the farm.​

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These loans are tied to the production or operating cycle: money loaned at the beginning of the season is expected to be used for the essential inputs needed to raise that season’s crop, and then paid back at the end of the cycle with the proceeds from the crop or product that was produced using the inputs purchased. This is different from term loans as those are tied to the productive life of the asset being financed, such as up to seven years for equipment or up to 30 years for real estate loans.

Often, using operating funds provides producers access to early-season or pre-paid discounts. For example, reduced prices on seed if purchased in December for a crop that will not be planted until April. In the current economic environment, higher input costs, along with lower crop prices, have led to lower levels of working capital. As a result, operating loans have become more prevalent even among the most financially sound farmers who may have traditionally paid for inputs with available working capital.

Many farmers employ the revolving line of credit at the beginning of the production cycle, then pay it off at the end of the productive season using the profits from the sale of their crops or products, and then start the process again for the following season. Using an operating loan, money is drawn as needed and interest begins accruing only as funds are pulled from the credit line. 

Operating loans are not commonly used to finance capital investments, because of the short-term nature of the loan. Short-term financing for a long-term asset can cause repayment challenges, which is why farmers more commonly match their financing to the useful life of the asset. 

Typically, the security for operating loans is the chattel, a word used for shorter term farm collateral, which can include the crop, both growing and stored, as well as machinery and equipment. Occasionally, a farmer will prefer to use real estate as collateral for an operating loan, such as in scenarios when the crop itself is jointly owned, or there is a prior lien holder on the crop. Security for the operating loan is primarily the borrower’s decision based on their operation’s unique situation. However, when the crop is used as the collateral, in some cases the lender may also require crop insurance, with an assignment of indemnity on the policy. 

One of the risks of employing an operating loan is when the crop itself does not yield enough return to pay off the loan, such as when prices drop unexpectedly or poor yields. In this type of situation, the farmer may be forced to carry the operating losses into the following crop cycle if they do not have alternative capital available to cover the balance. As farmers know, the continuation of this situation impedes profitability and the accumulation of working capital, and increases financial risk.

Operating loans are common across industries, from dairies to cash crops, fruit orchards to vegetables, nurseries to greenhouses. When used properly, they provide financial liquidity when it is needed most, with a short-term repayment to be able to efficiently remove this debt from the balance sheet.​

Martin Kasperski is a senior financial services officer with GreenStone.
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September 08
Intern Insights: Goals and Aspirations

By: Aubrey Netzel

​Growing up in Wisconsin, it seems you are never really out of reach from agriculture. I grew up on a farmette and over the years my family raised steers, pigs, chickens, turkeys and rabbits. I was actively involved in 4-H for 10 years and showed at the Shawano County Fair.

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I attend Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), located in Mequon, which is a small private school. I started my college experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but after a year I transferred to CUW as the bigger university wasn’t as fulfilling as I hoped it would be. Growing up in a small town, I really appreciate a smaller atmosphere; whether that be in college courses, the city I live in, or the place where I work. I will be graduating in May 2018 with a double major in finance and economics as well as a master’s in management.

I was beyond excited to have been selected as an intern at GreenStone, as it has allowed me to work in the field and gain hands on experience of what to expect in my future career. The environment at GreenStone is incredible. I had the opportunity to work with staff in both the Clintonville and Little Chute locations, which was great. Everyone that I met was incredibly nice and willing to help out whenever possible.

Over the course of my internship I supported the credit department with keying financials, sending out requests for financials and helping with participated loans. In addition, I worked closely with a financial services officer, assisted with chattel valuations, attended loan closings, and visited a customer’s operation. For my latest project, I have been mapping customers in certain Wisconsin counties to see where they are concentrated.

All in all, this internship has allowed me to make connections with lending professionals, use my knowledge of finance, and really delve into the field of agriculture. I have grown close with my coworkers and hope that in the future I will have the opportunity to return to GreenStone.

Aubrey Netzel is a credit intern with GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

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September 07
Visit Us at Career Fairs This Fall

By: Jonna Meyers

Human Resources Generalist, East Lansing​



Classes may have just resumed, but we are looking forward to our summer 2018 interns as well as potential career opportunities for recent and upcoming graduates. We will be hitting the road this fall visiting university career fairs talking about opportunities at GreenStone. 

As the area’s leading financial resource for the agricultural industry, we offer a variety of career opportunities in various locations giving employees the opportunity to demonstrate their passion for agriculture and commitment to rural America. We offer a work environment that will demand your best and in return offer personal fulfillment, challenging opportunities and financial rewards. While we hire many employees with abackground in credit and finance, lending isn't all we do.

In 2018 we will be looking for approximately 22 interns in Credit, Appraisal, Tax, Crop Insurance, Marketing, Information Systems, Legal and Human Resources as well as 4-5 Credit Assistants. The 2018 summer schedule will run from May 14 through August 31. 

The requirements for consideration into the GreenStone internship program are to be a college student between their sophomore and senior year (Graduating in Dec 2018 or later). All students must have a GPA of 3.0 or above and their major must be relevant to the internship they are applying for. 

More information on internships and open positions are available here http://bit.ly/2eKMn9x​

Visit us at the following university career fairs:

St. Norbert College          Sept. 13

UW Madison            Sept. 19 

Davenport University            Sept. 21

Michigan Tech University    Sept. 27

UW Green Bay            Sept. 27

Michigan State University            Oct. 3

UW Oshkosh            Oct. 3

UW River Falls            Oct. 11 

Western Michigan University    Oct. 11

Central Michigan University            Oct. 13

Northern Michigan University    Oct. 18

Grand Valley State University            Oct. 19

Western Michigan Finance Career Night   Oct. 26


 
August 24
Intern Insights: Goals and Aspirations

​By: Emily House

Growing up in the small rural town of Webberville, Michigan, I was surrounded by agriculture from the start. While I always wished I lived on a farm, the closest I ever got to farm life was raising hogs and a dairy feeder calf each summer for the Ingham County Fair. This did not stop me from pursing agriculture. I channeled this strong passion by joining the Webberville FFA chapter in eighth grade. It was through FFA that I was able to grow my knowledge of agriculture, network with industry leaders, and refine my skills in public speaking.

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In addition, I learned more about farm equipment by helping my father and grandfather at our family’s welding and fabrication shop, Moore’s Farm Repair. While working there, I not only gained knowledge of the equipment, but also learned about the struggles and triumphs of farming through conversations with our customers. As I spent more time at the shop and picked up responsibilities in bookkeeping, I realized I had a strong interest in finance and accounting.​

Fast forward a few years and I am still rooted in agriculture, but have continued to purse my interest in finance and accounting. This fall, I will embark on my fourth year at Michigan State University where I am double majoring in animal science and accounting. My studies in animal science are primarily focused on swine and dairy, but I have also been able to learn quite a bit about other livestock species along with companion animals. Each time I tell someone about my majors, I usually get a response like, “That’s a strange combination” and if you ask my grandfather, he would say it is because I want to learn to count cows. However, the real reason behind my combination of degrees is I want to be able to combine both of my passions in my future career. Upon graduation, I hope to find myself at an agricultural related business, like GreenStone, in an accounting role. 

My confidence in finding this type of career has grown significantly by interning at GreenStone this summer. I have thoroughly enjoyed working for a company focused on providing financing for agriculture of all types and sizes. GreenStone has certainly taught me what an efficient and effective workplace looks like and has set the bar very high for my post-graduation job search. The company culture, working environment, and overall positivity of the employees have far exceeded my expectations. The amount of teamwork and collaboration that happens within the company directly relates to the employee cohesion and company success. I could go on and on about all of the positive aspects and experiences I have had during my internship, but I will just finish with my overall favorite aspect of working at GreenStone. This is going to sound cheesy, but what I liked most about my internship is I felt I played a part, however small it may have been, in providing financial services to all of agriculture, making their visions a reality.

Emily House is a credit intern with GreenStone Farm Credit Services.  

August 21
What to Expect During Closing

​Successfully navigating the home buying experience requires an understanding of all phases of the process. Knowing the expectations of a smooth closing process can help both buyers and sellers have a positive experience as they close an important financial transaction. 

In this blog, we roll through some of the key expectations of closing a real estate loan. The animated video includes answers to the following:

What should I bring to closing?

What are the expectations of the buyer?

Who will be at the closing?

What payments are due at this time?

Watch this video to learn more:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvtZNhF2Ksw[/youtube] 









August 17
Intern Insights: Learning Through Work

By: Justin Webster

​Growing up on a 4,000 cow dairy, naturally I have always had an interest in agriculture, however I have never really experienced other aspects of the industry. Yes, my mom has a small row crop operation, but that is it. So when I was hired by GreenStone I made it my goal to learn more about other non-dairy industries and operations, along with gaining a deeper understanding of the behind-the-scene aspects of dairy farms. Being a credit intern, I have been exposed to the financing of farms, whether it be a 500 acre hobby farm or an 8,000 cow dairy. All operations need financing and all need it for different purposes. Through these couple of months I can confidently say I am much more knowledgeable about the agricultural industry as a whole; especially on the financial side.

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The primary focus of my internship is working on a peer comparison Excel project. For this, we enter customers' financial statements into Excel; there is one file each for dairy, row crop and greenhouses. The data flows to create charts and graphs and we are able to compare approximate same size operations to one another (their "peer") and see why one might be struggling and the other is thriving. This allows us to analyze financials dating back to 2008.

In addition to the peer comparison project, I have been working one-on-one with two credit analysts to learn more about GreenStone’s credit process. This includes entering in key financial data (balance sheet, tax returns and income and expenses) into our secure software for analysis and then discussing the information with sales and credit teams to determine the loan structure. I have really enjoyed working through this process and it has given me an interest to pursue a career in the financial side of agriculture.

Working at GreenStone has been a joy. The people are friendly and are always there to answer any questions. With that said, I have really come to appreciate two colleagues, Scott Simon and Kyanne Rodabaugh as I have spent a majority of my internship working side-by-side with both of them. These two, and the entire credit team, have helped me learn an endless amount about the credit process during my internship and have made a valuable impact on what I will pursue as a career!

Justin Webster is a credit intern with GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

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