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Dec. 17, 2015
When Clara Lauritsen contacted JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding this fall to inquire about internship opportunities, she didn’t expect her phone call to turn into a 30-minute phone interview and a request for her resume.
Lauritsen, an Exira, Iowa, native, has some familiarity with Five Rivers, which shares customers with her family’s cattle feed yard in southwest Iowa, Lauritsen Cattle Company. Five Rivers boasts 12 feed yards, including one in Canada, and is a top beef producer.
Lauritsen’s experiences at Northwest, however, gave her the confidence to prove she was the right person for Five Rivers’ internship program. Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree in agricultural science, she will head to work at its Yuma, Colorado, location. She will work in the operation’s internship program and have opportunities to gain experience in a variety of areas, from the mill to maintenance.
“Things I took from Northwest were definitely public speaking and being able to have a professional conversation,” she said. “A lot of the job-related topics just came from experiences in the field at Northwest and at home.”
Lauritsen transferred to Northwest after a year at Iowa Western Community College – a decision she calls one of the best she’s ever made. Her father, Scott, is a 1980 graduate of the University, but Lauritsen didn’t know much else about Northwest. When her final decision came down to Northwest and a large Iowa university, she chose Northwest because it felt more like home, she says.
“The environment is great,” Lauritsen said. “You come back from break and the (Valk) building is packed with students talking about their weekend or their weeks at home and just catching up on everything. You will not walk through the hallways without seeing someone that you know.”
Lauritsen shared a similar sentiment with the faculty.
“Every single one of the faculty knows my name in the ag department,” she said. “There are three teachers I’ve never had a class with that I feel absolutely comfortable with and can go into their office and have a conversation with them. They are very friendly.”
Lauritsen took on a role as an ambassador for the School of Agricultural Sciences, helping to recruit prospective students by giving tours of Northwest’s agriculture facilities. She also spent a lot of time growing her ag knowledge at the University’s R.T. Wright Farm.
Having grown up on a large farm operation, Lauritsen said she learned to appreciate faming on a smaller scale and took advantage of the hands-on experiences the Wright Farm offered.
“The only real experience I had was with the cattle side of things, and I did show sheep as an FFA member in high school,” Lauritsen said. “But I had never really dealt with pigs before. I really like the animal handling side of things.”
She joined the Block and Bridle animal science club, which offers industry tours and opportunities to learn about the animal science field, and was the club’s president last year. She also rushed Sigma Alpha, Northwest’s agriculture sorority, for which she served as recruitment chair. The sorority focuses on professional development, but also provides the social bonding associated with Greek organizations.
“It’s still a sisterhood, and it’s pretty cool to look around the room and see 40 girls who have your back,” Lauritsen said. “It’s helped me grow from a professional aspect, whether it’s having a profession conversation or interviews. It’s helped me with public speaking. Everyone has a shy side, but I think that has really opened up here.”
Northwest, Lauritsen says, offers connections with students, faculty and community members that aren’t easily replicated. “It’s a very welcoming community, and I can see the people of Maryville are very proud to be home to Northwest Missouri State.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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