The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that one in five people are employed in an industry related to agriculture and businesses are searching for qualified employees.
Businesses Look to K-State for Advice, Employeees
Loaves of fresh-baked bread with the label “Developed Locally by Maggie” are familiar to grocery shoppers at Ray’s Apple Markets in northeast Kansas.
Maggie Weeks, a 2009 graduate of K-State’s bakery science and management program, has developed two different formulas to make several whole white wheat breads and the Vienna bread, baguettes, and focaccia that bear her name.
She met her future employers — Tom and Rob Floersch of Ray’s Apple Markets — when they contacted K-State for advice on developing new bakery products.
“We were looking to develop some signature bread items in our bakery department to set us apart from our competition,” said Rob Floersch. “The breads developed in conjunction with Kansas State University have helped us accomplish this and have helped us compete in a very competitive marketplace. We feel these signature items have set us apart from our competition.”
Weeks honed her scratch baker skills in Baking I and II and Bakery Layout classes taught by Instructor Dave Krishock.
“I learned what each ingredient is and why it is in the recipe,” Weeks said. “I find that I use what I learned in all my classes, including Management Applications in the Grain Processing Industries.”
Fred Fairchild, professor of feed science, has taught the applications class for 16 years. The senior-level class is designed to help students take the combined knowledge from their college career — classes, research, and internships — and apply it to real-world products.
“I encourage the students to create a business plan for a grain-based or grain- related product or service,” Fairchild said.
Since 2009, the main class project has been to create an entry for the Next Big Thing contest sponsored by K-State’s Center for the Advancement for Entrepreneurship. The first year, Fairchild’s students took the top three places in the product division.
Weeks was a member of the winning team that created Flour Indulgence, a company that makes baked goods, such as cookies and brownies, into edible bouquets as a substitute for flowers. The second place team was Prestige Worldwide, a microbrewery producing quality wheat beers and celiac-friendly beers. Third place went to Bone on the Go, a company producing meal- replacement dog bones for dog owners to feed their pets while traveling.
“Professor Fairchild’s class gave me perspective on what I wanted to do and made me think about my future plans,” Weeks added.
In 2010, five of his students came up with an idea for Integrated Bin Solutions LLC that could resolve a persistent problem in storing grain and reduce fatalities associated with managing stored products. They are exploring business strategies to market their idea and put it to work saving lives.
“Students from the College of Agriculture are good at basing their ideas on current ag issues,” said Jeff Hornsby, director of K-State’s Center for the Advancement of Leadership. “The process is referred to as ‘find the pain, heal the pain,’ which means they research a problem in a particular industry then look for a business opportunity to solve the problem.”
Fred Fairchild, 785-532-7010, email@example.com