UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Hometown: Mazeppa, Minn.
Major: Crop and Soil Science, emphasis in soil science
Internship: Pioneer Seeds
Aricka Roberson grew up in Mazeppa, Minn., with a passion for soil.
Throughout high school, Aricka was very active in Future Farmers of America (FFA) at the national level. She also participated in and helped rebuild her school’s soil judging team. In soil judging, students stand in large soil pits to identify different horizons in the soil, explain their characteristics and how they were formed and determine their implications for various land uses all through observations and textural analysis by hand.
Although Aricka didn’t technically grow up on a farm, she says she was always surrounded by agriculture. When it came to selecting a school for her post-secondary education, UW-River Falls was an easy choice for Aricka.
Finding her fit
“I knew the first time I visited UWRF in high school with my FFA team that this was the place for me,” said Aricka. “The home atmosphere and care of the professors to know you by name made me fall in love with the campus.”
Aricka has been involved with the UWRF crops and soils club as an officer for three years and loves the experience. She has also had the opportunity to travel around the United States with the UWRF soil judging team. In the past two years, she has gone to Nebraska and Kentucky and this year, she will travel to Kansas to compete in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference. In addition, Aricka has been involved in Sigma Alpha Agricultural Sorority and is serving her second year on the organization’s executive leadership team.
In November, Aricka will be traveling to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in an undergraduate research poster contest that ties the effects of certain soil formation characteristics to farm land value. She will also present this research at a later date during the UWRF Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA) Fall Gala.
“I regret not doing undergraduate research sooner,” says Aricka. “I knew that it was something I wanted to do before graduating. It is such an amazing resource we have here and I strongly encourage it.”
During her time at UWRF, Aricka has had two summer internships with Pioneer Seeds. In addition to the hands-on experiences, she learned the importance of networking and connections.
Aricka had connections with a Pioneer Seeds employee from a previous high school job. He knew of her interest in agronomy and contacted her during her sophomore year of college to let her know of an internship opportunity with Pioneer Seeds.
“He told me I should reach out and apply,” said Aricka. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here today talking about my internship experience. This is a testimony to the fact that networking opportunities exist everywhere you go.”
Her first summer, Aricka worked throughout Southeast Minnesota on the sales and agronomy side of the business. This past summer, she took a second internship with the company as the National Corn Marketing intern in Des Moines, Iowa. Aricka says her favorite part of the internship was seeing the strategy behind positioning the products in the market. Her main tasks were to educate, train and motivate the field teams to grow sales.
Future in focus
As Aricka reflects fondly on her experiences, she wonders how the connections she has made now will help her build her career in the future.
“Being involved in an internship allowed me to discover what my passion is,” said Aricka. “Even though this is one of the busiest times in our lives, I recommend doing at least one, if not two internships prior to graduation.”
This summer, Aricka accepted a full-time position with Pioneer as an associate territory manager. She’ll begin that role after graduating in May 2020.