Agtegra Signs First Build Dakota Scholar

Apr 05, 2023

Aidan signs Build Dakota Scholarship Contract
Aidan Heitkamp, a senior at Tri-Valley High School in Colton, South Dakota, has accepted a Build Dakota scholarship sponsored in part by Agtegra Cooperative. Heitkamp, who plans to study agronomy at Mitchell Technical College, is Agtegra’s first Build Dakota scholar in program history.

The Build Dakota Scholarship program was established in 2015 to address South Dakota’s workforce shortage by providing students a full-ride scholarship to one of four of the state’s technical schools. Once accepted into the program, recipients must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and commit to working full-time in their career field within the state for three years after graduation.

As an industry partner of the Build Dakota program, Agtegra will support a portion of Heitkamp’s educational expenses, while Build Dakota will cover the remainder. In exchange, Heitkamp will intern with Agtegra over the next two summers and will transition to a full-time role after graduating college in 2025.

Agtegra Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Communications Jane Kuhn explains why Agtegra decided to support the program.

“Finding qualified, experienced talent is a challenge for all organizations, including Agtegra,” said Kuhn. “Through the Build Dakota Program, we are able to connect with young individuals to help them start their career journey with Agtegra and support Build Dakota’s mission of keeping younger generations in South Dakota.”

This scholarship pays for everything Heitkamp needs for school – tuition, fees, books, a computer and tools. According to Mitchell Tech’s website, Heitkamp’s agronomy program typically costs an estimated $17,880 – all of which will be covered by the Build Dakota scholarship.

“We want to partner with these students to provide great learning and development opportunities in challenging careers,” said Kuhn. “On a long-term basis, our goal is to create a great employee experience in which these students/graduates stay with Agtegra for their entire career.”

Growing up in an agriculture community, Heitkamp often helps his friends on their family farms. As his interest in the industry grew through his agricultural courses and FFA program at school, Heitkamp applied and was accepted into the agronomy program at Mitchell Tech for the fall.

Mitchell Tech’s agronomy program falls under Build Dakota’s high-need area requirement, which led Heitkamp to look further into Build Dakota.

“When I was looking into Build Dakota, I started researching agronomy businesses in the area, and I came upon Agtegra,” said Heitkamp.

Heitkamp reached out to Agtegra through the company’s website to see if they were involved with Build Dakota. Having never sponsored a Build Dakota student before, Agtegra Talent Management Lead McKenzie DuFresne decided to interview Heitkamp and explore a partnership with the program a little further.

After interviewing with DuFresne, Agtegra accepted Heitkamp as the cooperative’s first Build Dakota scholar.

“We’re so excited to welcome Aidan to our team as our first Build Dakota recipient, and we cannot wait to work alongside and support him as he starts his education with Mitchell Tech and career with Agtegra,” said DuFresne.

With only a few classes left to finish up his senior year of high school, Heitkamp plans to start working at the Agtegra Colman location as an Agronomy Intern this spring and will continue interning there over the next two summers. After graduating from Mitchell Tech in 2025, he will transition to a full-time role at the Colman location.

“It’s exciting that, at such a young age, students like Aidan have such a passion for agriculture and envision themselves with Agtegra for years to come,” said DuFresne.

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