Bedford native and 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, 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.”