Caring Mentorship, Room to Grow

Riley Arthur is on the run. The junior majoring in agricultural business and economics is chasing not just a degree, but the full-blown Iowa State experience.

Arthur, an Owatonna, Minnesota, native worked as a commercial merchandising intern this summer with ethanol processor Flint Hills Resources.

The job kept him moving. As Arthur traveled to four of the company’s ethanol plants in Iowa and Nebraska and to the company’s headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, he learned about marketing distillers grains, a co-product of the ethanol process.

“I had an awesome, outstanding boss and got to interact with customers every day. I don’t necessarily want to crop scout for the rest of my life, but I learned so much and it was a great experience.”

Arthur continues his fast-paced schedule on campus. This is his second year as a peer mentor for agricultural business freshmen. And he makes time to serve as a CALS Ambassador and an officer in the Agricultural Business Club. As the club’s Senior CALS Council Representative, he co-chairs the CALS Week committee and coordinates the Pre-Career Day Mixer.

He is further developing his leadership skills in the Vermeer International Leadership Program.

“It’s a year-long program that intensely focuses on leadership, not just from a university perspective, but from an international and cultural perspective. We get to travel to one of their company facilities in the Netherlands during spring break 2019,” says Arthur.

Receiving several scholarships has helped Arthur excel. As a freshman, he received the Dean’s Leadership Scholarship and participated in the program’s weekly class led by then-dean Wendy Wintersteen and associate dean David Acker.

An exciting bonus of the dean’s scholarship? A grant allowing Arthur to do research as an undergrad. He’s been working with Dermot Hayes, who specializes in ag markets in the United States and China. Hayes is the Pioneer Chair in Agribusiness and a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Riley is a self-starter who does excellent work,” says Hayes. “He also manages his time very well. In addition to other work, he initiated a project to understand how changes in China’s ethanol policy would impact world corn markets.”

Arthur says Hayes gives him room to grow.

“Dermot doesn’t micro-manage what I’m doing. He basically lays out a question he wants me to answer, then it’s my job to go figure out how to answer that question,” says Arthur. “Early on, he differentiated research from the classroom: in research— unlike in the classroom—the professor doesn’t know the answer. So, I must be confident that the results I present to him are accurate.”

Arthur must be getting something right. His name appears with Hayes’ on an October 2017 Center for Agricultural and Rural Development article on China’s E-10 mandate.

After graduation, Arthur plans to work in industry for a few years and then look at pursuing a higher degree.