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News Release

March 15, 2018

Ag students compete in simulation, Willets takes first place

Northwest Missouri State University student Seth Willets finished at the top of this year’s AGYield Simulator intercollegiate competition, outperforming students from Edison College, Iowa State and the University of Nebraska while securing a $600 scholarship.

Willets, a senior agricultural business major from Bedford, Iowa, was one of two students representing Northwest in the competition, which included 55 students from various colleges and universities from throughout the U.S. Alexander Engeman, a senior agricultural business major from Montrose, Missouri, also represented Northwest and finished 14th.

AgYield simulates a full 36-week growing season, for corn and soybeans, in a fraction of the time. During the competition, each week of growing season is represented by half a day, allowing for the game to last 18 days.

Participants are faced with real-life scenarios including constantly changing weather, USDA reports and fluctuating market prices. All participants start at with 1,300 acres in corn and 1,200 acres in soybeans, each with the same costs and yields for each crop. From there, they must build and manage their own risk management strategy, including crop insurance, futures and options contracts, and cash grain contracts while learning how to adapt to the ever-changing price and yield conditions. The objective is to learn the value of proactive risk management in a risk-free environment that encourages hands-on, active participation.

Willets and Engeman were selected to compete based on their performance last fall in the Northwest’s applied futures course. The course’s instructor, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Sciences Dr. Seth Soman, said the simulation is just one way Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences prepares students to be career-ready.

“The simulation requires students to apply the research, analysis and risk management techniques utilized by professional brokers in commodity merchandizing,” Dr. Seth Soman, assistant professor of agriculture economics and business, said. “This gives students a taste of real life and helps them apply what they learn in the classroom.”

Willets said he benefitted from participating in the competition, which not only provided him with more awareness of the knowledge needed to manage a growing season. Through the contest, Willets said, he also gained a deeper appreciation of the instruction Soman and Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences provides.

“This competition really gave me confidence that what we learn in the classroom will actually translate to the real world,” he said. “Overall, I just feel more prepared for the real world now that I’ve been shown that what we learn has some practical application. The opportunity to participate in things like this is something that I feel really fortunate to have access to at Northwest.”


About the School of Agricultural Sciences

Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences is experiencing rapid growth and serves about 12 percent of the University’s undergraduate population. The School relocated last fall to the Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation while facilities such as the Horticulture Complex and the 448-acre R.T. Wright Farm – which is home to beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops – continue to provide students with hands-on, profession-based experience that supports the 95 percent of bachelor’s degree earners in the School who find employment or continue their education within six months of graduation.

Additionally, Northwest and the School of Agricultural Sciences are in the planning stages and pursuing private support to help fund an $8.5 million, 29,000-square-foot Agricultural Learning Center at the Wright Farm and supplement and enhance the academic curriculum.

The School of Agricultural Sciences offers agricultural majors in agricultural business, agriculture education, agriculture science, agronomy, animal science, animal science-pre vet, horticulture and technology, in addition to minors, a two-year farm operations certificate and master’s programs in agriculture, education and economics.

For more information, contact the School of Agricultural Sciences at 660.562.1155 or visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215