In The News

Aug 9, 2022

Meet Corey Schultz, NCGA Research Ambassador

Key Issues: Research

Author: Savannah Peterson

University of Georgia Bioinformatics doctoral student, Corey Schultz has focused on finding way to improve yields by understanding how corn interacts with beneficial microbes. Through the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Research Ambassador program, Corey has recognized farmers’ concerns and learned how to proactively communicate research results.   With a saturated market of beneficial-bacteria products, Corey began to realize that different corn lines reacted differently to the same microbes. This concerning realization led Corey to study both how microbes affect corn and how corn affects microbes.   “I used three different growth-promoting microbes on a variety of genetically-diverse corn lines in the greenhouse. I found variable growth promotion among the different types of corn, with some corn lines showing improved growth above ground, some below ground, and some not responding at all,” shares Corey, concluding that the best way to tailor microbes depends on the...

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Aug 1, 2022

Meet Matthew Runyon, NCGA Research Ambassador

Key Issues: Research

Author: Savannah Peterson

Matthew Runyon is a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign and is a part of the National Corn Growers Association's (NCGA) Research Ambassador Program. After seeing how drought affected his family’s farm, Matthew sought to find sustainable ways to improve yield during dry times.   Matthew focused his research on aquaporins, which are proteins that help facilitate water movement, as well as other small molecules like CO2, between plant cells. By characterizing mutants with altered aquaporin expression profiles, Matthew hopes to change water-use efficiency (WUE) and photosynthetic parameters.   “In principle, overexpressing CO2-permeable aquaporins should increase the rate of carbon uptake,” shares Matthew. “This will reduce the amount of time the stomata need to be open to allow CO2-rich air to enter the leaf, consequentially reducing the amount of water transpired.”   Matthew’s research is divided into two pieces. First, he is studying...

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Jul 25, 2022

Meet Dylan Shoemaker, NCGA Research Ambassador

Key Issues: Research

Author: Savannah Peterson

Dylan Schoemaker, graduate research assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has studied the response of maize hybrids across environments as part of the Genomes To Fields Initiative, which the  National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) funds. Aside from his studies, Dylan was a part of the NCGA Research Ambassador program where he found value in forming scientist-grower relationships to help bring attention to issues like food security and climate change.   Dylan’s research looks at understanding how corn responds to different environmental conditions and uses that information to predict hybrid performance in new environments. His research works to quantify these effects on genomes.   “My research strives to understand what components of the environment—such as rainfall, temperate, and soil moisture—can be incorporated into statistical models to predict hybrid performance across diverse environmental conditions,” explains Dylan.   Furthermore, Dylan’s work strives to...

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Jul 19, 2022

Meet Claire Menard, NCGA Research Ambassador

Key Issues: Research

Author: Savannah Peterson

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities doctoral student Claire Menard has been researching genetic elements that contribute to corn’s phenotype. Claire was a part of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Research Ambassador program. Coming from a non-agriculture background, she is grateful the program gave her the opportunity to connect with corn farmers to bring value to the purpose of her research.   With a focus on how maize responds to environmental factors, Claire’s research works to understand how transposable elements (TEs) affect corn production. TEs have the ability to move within genomes of maize which ultimately affects agronomic traits.   “My project is designed to identify these new regions where TEs jump into, measure the rate of movement, and characterize the types of TEs found within maize populations,” shares Claire, acknowledging TEs’ position in creating more sustainable practices. “TEs are greatly influenced by stress and may become activated under harsh...

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Jul 13, 2022

Meet Alden Perkins, NCGA Research Ambassador

Key Issues: Research

Author: Savannah Peterson

Alden Perkins is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his research is focused on improving seed lines by incorporating diversity from exotic corn varieties. During his time in the NCGA Research Ambassador program, Perkins has been able to better understand farmers' concerns which have helped him create purposeful research.    “The conversations I had through this program gave me a better understanding of what growers look for when choosing hybrids and the relative value of different traits,” Perkins shared. “For example, it was very helpful to hear from growers based in other parts of the country about their experiences with managing tar spot and recent wind events.”   Through his initial research, Perkins found that many of the current seed corn hybrids in the U.S. are the result of selecting the best progeny from improved U.S. inbred lines. While this has proven successful, W.A. Russell, Iowa State professor and colleague’s study on a Peruvian...

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Jul 11, 2022

NCGA Holds Second Annual Women and Mentors Retreat

Author: Savannah Peterson

On June 27 and 28, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) welcomed growers and staff to this year’s Women and Mentors Retreat. Focused on building a network of rising leaders, women and mentors came together to overcome workplace obstacles, share their leadership journey and empower each other.   The second annual conference kicked off with a lesson on Quieting Your Inner Critic and roundtable discussions. Both activities encouraged participants to put aside negative thoughts and experiences to lead with power and purpose. Then growers and staff separated into breakout rooms to individualize their experiences. Grower participants cultivated tools to lean on their network and get more involved in leadership, while staff learned tools to help them thrive in a male-dominated industry. This year’s conference concluded with a lunch program focused on Why Diversity is Important at Every Table.   Attendees left encouraged to continue their networking experience in their newly...

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Jul 7, 2022

Inspire, Empower and Connect through CommonGround

Author: Savannah Peterson

CommonGround volunteers and state staff came together in St. Louis June 20 and 21 to inspire, empower and connect with each other. Just like other moms across the country, these women are passionate about their food, their children and each other.   Through interactive sessions, inspiring panels and exciting activities, participants fostered their skills of advocating for agriculture. Highlights of this week’s event included a panel of inspiring women conducted by Tricia Beal, CEO of the Farm Journal Foundation. Panelists included six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Balkan Treat Box owner Loryn Nalic, CommonGround Nebraska volunteer and J&S Feedlot Co-owner Joan Ruskamp and Dr. Ruth Kaggwa of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.   “Jackie Joyner-Kersee reminded us there is gold in everyone. I believe CommonGround has had that in mind from the beginning in our approach to connect our stories from the farm to urban moms,” said Ruskamp, reflecting on what her...

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