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Interns begin summer work at ISA

Article cover photo
The ISA interns this summer will be across the state helping the research teams gather data and samples. The interns are, from left: Hayden Walker, Emma Harper, Kevin Ellis, Cameron Onstot, Aubra Galles and Catherine Thom. (Photo: Carol Brown/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Carol Brown, ISA environmental communications specialist

The student interns with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) began their summer duties last week and will be helping the On-Farm Network®, Analytics, and Environmental Programs and Services (EPS) teams with various responsibilities. Farmers may see them out in their fields collecting data, soil or water samples, flying drones and more.

Aubra Galles is a junior at Iowa State University (ISU), majoring in agronomy. She previously worked for Dr. Danny Singh at ISU’s agronomy research lab as well as the GEM crew for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She is from Remsen, where her family farms.

Cameron Onstot is a senior at ISU majoring in agricultural studies with a minor in agronomy. He is from Indianola, where he was involved with FFA. He has interned previously at EcoSource LLC, working with contaminated soil remediation and environmental compliance.

Catherine Thom is an agronomy major at ISU. She's a member of the Soil Judging team, Agronomy Club, Lyrica Choir and participates in theatre. Thom has been a lab and field intern for the USDA-Agricultural Research Station as well as a crop scouting intern for Mid-County Coop. She also has worked on a llama farm in Minnesota.

As On-Farm Network interns, Galles, Onstot and Thom will be aiding the regional agronomists primarily collecting samples and data for the numerous replicated field trials and field surveys on farms across the state.

Hayden Walker is helping the Analytics team this summer, working with GIS and remote sensing through drone usage. A Kansas native, Walker is a recent graduate of Kansas State University, earning a degree in agronomy with an emphasis on precision agriculture. He will return to Kansas State in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in geography. 

Kevin Ellis is an intern with the EPS team, focusing on GIS systems. He is in the graduate program for sustainable agriculture at ISU, with a double major in sustainable agriculture and community and regional planning. Prior to going to ISU, Ellis worked as a sustainable agriculture specialist with the National Center of Appropriate Technology, providing technical assistance for farmers and ranchers across the country on poultry production, pasture management, marketing and food systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in poultry science from Texas A&M University. Ellis is also the author of several publications and has created videos and podcasts on agriculture.

Emma Harper is an intern for the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA). She will be a junior next fall at ISU majoring in agriculture communications and global resource systems. She has been involved at ISU in the student chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association. Last semester Harper served as an intern for the World Food Prize, helping in the implementation of the Iowa Youth Institute event. Also, she has taught fifth-grade students in Uganda about soil science. In her spare time, she is the vice president of the ISU Cyclone Ballroom Club, in which members participate in dancing competitions throughout the Midwest.

The ISA research teams encourage farmers to say hello when they see the interns in their fields and get to know the future of Midwestern agriculture.

Contact Carol Brown at

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.