Concordia Alums Working In Agriculture
Even though Concordia University, Nebraska’s agricultural science program is relatively new, many of our alumni have chosen to use their God-given talents to impact and serve the agriculture industry. Here’s how these esteemed alumni live their vocations as stewards of God’s earth and resources.
Agricultural Loan Officer
Scott Simonsen ’95 grew up on a farm just northwest of Seward. So when he graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska with a degree in business management, he knew that he wanted to live and work someplace rural.
“I thought about what kind of jobs were in those settings that would fit me,” says Simonsen. “During my final year of college, I visited with many different people in rural Nebraska about their careers and what they thought was a need. Banking and financial services came up quite a bit. I thought that might be something that I would like.”
Simonsen works at First State Bank in Hordville, Nebraska, a family-owned bank that serves the rural community. He’s been there for 22 years, and according to Simonsen, “It’s been worth it.” More than 70% of the loans the bank grants are agriculture related, so Simonsen gets to support the ag industry in a field he loves.
Like many Concordia Nebraska alums, Kenlon Johannes ’71 started his career after graduation as a teacher. It’s why he chose Concordia in the first place. “I wanted to be a teacher, because I had a great Lutheran school teacher,” he says.
Johannes’s life took an unexpected turn when his father passed away unexpectedly. He decided to move back home to Leigh, Nebraska, and take over the family farm where he raised corn, soybeans and livestock. After 12 years of farming, prices hit a low point, and Johannes applied for a position as executive director of the Wisconsin Corn & Soybean Program. From there, he worked for the Missouri Soybean Association and served as the first executive director for the National Biodiesel Board before moving to the private sector where he worked for a biodiesel manufacturer and a re-refiner of motor oil.
Johannes has returned to serving soybean farmers as the CEO of the Kansas Soybean Association. In that role, he manages and implements production and utilization research, domestic and international market development and education projects as well as federal and state lobbying programs.
Johannes also shares his local knowledge on a global scale. He has participated in market development trips to Europe, Asia, Africa and Central and South America working with national organizations and governmental agencies to assess opportunities for the export of soybeans and soybean products to these continents.
It’s an agriculture career that Johannes has been building for decades that has taken him around the world, and it’s thanks in part to Concordia.
“I had a great broad-based overall education at Concordia,” Johannes says. “After teaching for several years, I had the confidence to take on new challenges which included farming and the trade association field.”
Ben Heins '11 grew up on a dairy and row crop farm in Missouri. Coming to Concordia University, Nebraska was a family affair, and it definitely played a part in his college decision. But it wasn’t the only reason he chose Concordia.
“I was the 8th of my first cousins to attend Concordia,” Heins says, “so the family tradition played a role. However, more importantly, the small, Lutheran campus was a fit for me.”
Heins earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration with emphases in finance and agribusiness. He knew from the beginning that working in ag was something he was going to do. “My background in agriculture has given me an appreciation for ag and its importance in the world,” says Heins.
Now, Heins is the accountant at Nebraska Equipment, a Case IH implement dealership in Seward, Nebraska, where he gets to use his business degree to support the ag industry every day.