This year’s Future Giants of the Seed Industry award winner is already making his mark on the world of agriculture.
Andrew Lauver is living the dream. At the age of 23, he works at a job he loves with a company he has always wanted to work for. And as the recipient of the 2013 Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award, which recognizes leadership, innovation and commitment to the industry, he has been acknowledged by the sector as an important up-and-comer.
“Andrew’s drive to achieve greatness in agriculture—through meaningful and purposeful work—is second to none, and makes him a true standout in the American seed industry,” says Josh St. Peters, DuPont Pioneer’s global public affairs manager and Lauver’s marketing internship supervisor in 2012. “He’s exhibited the kind of leadership and commitment that is a testament to our company, and leaves us certain he is the person who will best succeed at being a giant for our business and our future growth.”
Lauver’s work ethic and passion for agriculture developed at a young age while growing up on the family grain and livestock farm in northwest Iowa, and as a result of participation in organizations such as 4-H and the National FFA.
Lauver and Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley.
It All Starts with the Seed
Wishing to explore the world of agriculture further, Lauver attended Iowa State University. After his freshman year, he accepted a summer position with MaxYield Cooperative as an intern scouting fields and delivering seed and chemicals to producers. The role proved to be pivotal in his choice of career path. “I began to see that everything starts with the seed. You don’t have anything if you don’t have quality seed to start the crop off. I decided the seed industry was where I wanted to be,” he says.
Active on many fronts while attending ISU, Lauver promoted and supported agriculture through many on- and off-campus groups and committees in leadership roles, such as Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity president, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors president, Iowa State Corn Growers’ Association founder and World Food Prize pro-active communications assistant, among others.
Convinced his school newspaper could benefit from a positive voice speaking for agriculture, he wrote weekly columns for the Iowa State Daily on the importance of agriculture, global challenges and industry opportunities. “We get a lot of negative press in agriculture at times. Even at ISU, where agriculture is looked upon favorably, many people don’t know very much about it,” he says.
Lauver excelled at his studies, graduating with a bachelor of science in agricultural studies (with distinction) in 2012, also completing the Channel Brand Field Sales internship at Monsanto Company in 2011 and the North America Corn Marketing internship at DuPont Pioneer in 2012. However, it was the relationships he cultivated outside of the classroom that ultimately solidified his career choice.
The American Seed Trade Association’s Future Seed Executives Campus Connections program provided Lauver with the networking experience of a lifetime during ASTA’s 128th Annual Convention in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 2011 while he was in his junior year. “For the first time in my life, I met people who were seasoned veterans in the seed industry. … I was able to visualize a career in the seed industry and see its potential,” says Lauver.
Also during his junior year, while en route to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the Iowa Corn Growers’ Association, Lauver was seated next to Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley on the airplane. For two hours, Senator Grassley and Lauver discussed all aspects of agriculture, also connecting over their similar farming backgrounds. Toward the end of the journey, the senator suggested Lauver apply for an internship at his office. “It was one of those times in my life where I was just in the right place at the right time,” says Lauver.
Immediately upon graduating, Lauver headed to Washington to become Senator Grassley’s legislative intern. “I’ve always been interested in agricultural policy. I learned how the government works. In the U.S., 16 percent of our population represents rural America. That drove me to advocate for rural America and farmers,” says Lauver. “I feel fortunate to have grown up on a farm … I feel like I’ve won the birth lottery in a sense.”
After his experience in government, Lauver accepted the position of Frank Ross International Business Emerging Leader at DuPont Pioneer. “It’s a dream job for me to be working for Pioneer,” says Lauver, whose father also works for the company.
Lauver is currently DuPont Pioneer’s Frank Ross International Business Emerging Leader.
Lauver is currently enjoying the challenge and stimulation multiple projects and topics provide him on the job each day. “My goal as a young person is to learn to help contribute to our business goals as best I can.”
According to St. Peters, contributing—and more—is exactly what Lauver is doing. “Andrew wants our business to achieve great things and gives tirelessly of his time and talents in support of that goal. He’s always learning and developing himself as an employee and a person—wanting to be better so that he may do better,” he says.
The position also feeds Lauver’s hunger for projects with international scope since his study experiences abroad in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Costa Rica while at ISU. Next year, Lauver will be moving to Saskatoon, Sask., Canada, where he will work with a team to introduce new corn hybrids to northern Saskatchewan—a project that promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he says. He hopes more international assignments—say in Europe or even Africa—are in his future.
Lauver is also working on a master’s of agribusiness at Kansas State University, which he expects to complete in 2017. “I don’t let the grass grow under my feet,” says Lauver. “I keep moving all the time.”
That motivation stems from a profound respect for agriculture, his family, the people he surrounds himself with every day, and a mission to give back to any source that has played a part in creating the world he inhabits. “My family immigrated from Ireland, and they were farmers. Agriculture has given me everything I have today, and I want to give as much as I can back to the people and the source that has given me everything.”
Jim Schweigert (left) presented the 2013 Future Giants of the Industry award to Lauver (center) at ASTA’s 130th Annual Convention last June. John Chism of DuPont Pioneer is on Lauver’s right.
Learning about influential figures in agriculture, such as Norman Borlaug and Henry Wallace, also inspires Lauver. “What drives me is reading about how hard they worked and how they committed their whole lives, both personally and professionally, to agriculture. I’m not saying I’m them by any means, but someone in our generation, many of us, need to step up and follow in their footsteps—they did a lot for all of us.”
Manjit Misra, director of ISU’s Seed Science Center, says Lauver is already stepping up and making his mark on the industry. “Andrew’s integrity, intelligence, perseverance, and ability to work with and motivate others make him stand head and shoulders above others. Andrew rarely does anything in a small way—he anticipates the future of the industry, not idly standing by hoping others will make the sacrifice, but proactively taking those first steps necessary to lay the groundwork to make change a reality. The seed industry needs more young minds like Andrew Lauver’s,” says Misra.
Andrew Lauver is living the dream—a dream of his own making based on hard work, determination, and enthusiasm for people and agriculture.
Editor’s note: The Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award is co-presented by ASTA’s Future Seed Executives and Seed World magazine. Andrew Lauver was presented the award at ASTA’s 130th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn., in June. The award is presented annually to an individual currently employed within the industry or in the graduation year of a post-secondary program with plans to enter the seed industry.