Vermeer scholars engage in leadership activities

The second cohort of Iowa State students to be selected for the Vermeer International Leadership Program has been engaged in leadership development activities in and outside the classroom during the fall 2016 semester. The 20 students are taking LD ST 322, “Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society,” as a group and have engaged with members of the Vermeer family and corporation in several leadership activities.

The 2016-2017 VILP cohort started the semester with a leadership retreat at Wesley Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Indianola, Iowa, on Aug. 26-27. The students spent 24 hours together with Tara Edberg, the faculty director of the VILP, and Amy Pilcher, the graduate assistant for the program. The students participated in visioning work, the true colors assessment and team building. In addition, they heard from a panel of Vermeer family and corporate members: Dan Vermeer, a history teacher at Pella Christian High School; Leon Durivage, senior engineering manager; Whitney Wilkinson, senior talent acquisition specialist; and Jason Zylstra, marketing manager.

2016-17 cohort members build on their teamwork skills while on the low ropes course at the fall leadership retreat.
2016-17 cohort members build on their teamwork skills while on the low ropes course at the fall leadership retreat.

On Oct. 3, Karla Vos, the talent development manager at Vermeer Corp., was a guest speaker in the cohorts’ LD ST 322 class. She taught the students about whole brain theory using the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument, which is used to measure and describe thinking preferences in people. The model is divided into four modes of thinking—analytical, sequential, interpersonal and imaginative.

Cohort members listen to guest speaker Karla Vos from the Vermeer Corp. on their LD ST 322: Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society class.
Cohort members listen to guest speaker Karla Vos from the Vermeer Corp. on their LD ST 322: Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society class.

“Through the use of a card sort, Karla helped the students identify their top two preferences and discussed how the preferences can work together, how to structure group work utilizing this information, and how this tool can be used for leadership,” said Edberg, who teaches the class. The Vermeer Corp. uses this assessment in their leadership development and training.

October also included interactions with members of the Vermeer family and corporation both on and off the Iowa State campus. On Oct. 5, VILP students, Edberg and Pilcher attended Vermeer Equipment Day, an annual outreach event with the ISU College of Engineering. At the event, students talked with Vermeer engineers and viewed demonstrations of various machines. The VILP also had an information table at the event.

Cy poses with 2016-17 cohort members Forrest Beeler (left) and David Schemm and VILP intern Emily Ramm at Vermeer Equipment Day.
Cy poses with 2016-17 cohort members Forrest Beeler (left) and David Schemm and VILP intern Emily Ramm at Vermeer Equipment Day.

On Oct. 13, students from the 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 VILP cohorts along with Edberg, Pilcher and Dianne Bystrom, director of the Leadership Studies Program, attended the grand opening of the Vermeer Applied Technology Hub at the Iowa State Research Park. Speakers included Iowa State President Steven Leath and Michael Crum, vice president for economic development and industry relations, who discussed the hub’s start-up factory. Mary Andringa, chair of the board for the Vermeer Corp., and Jason Andringa, president and CEO of the company, gave presentations on Vermeer’s newest facility and their various partnerships with Iowa State.

On Oct. 24, the 20 students in the VILP 2016-2017 cohort, Edberg and Pilcher visited Vermeer corporate headquarters in Pella, Iowa. They started the day at the Yellow Iron Academy, a child care and preschool next to the original Vermeer family farm in Pella. Working in groups, the VILP students led science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities with the students. The VILP students then toured the Vermeer museum and learned about the history of the Vermeer Corp. and family.

Pilcher and Edberg and members of the 2016-17 VILP cohort visited Vermeer corporate headquarters in Pella, Iowa.
Pilcher (first row left) and Edberg (first row right) and members of the 2016-17 VILP cohort visited Vermeer corporate headquarters in Pella, Iowa.

The museum tour was followed by lunch with Vermeer family members and corporate leaders including Mary Andringa, Dale Andringa, Jason Andringa, Bob Vermeer, Lois Vermeer, Tricia Vermeer, Derek De Haan, Steve Heap, Ryan Agre, Doug Hundt, Nathan Guess, Bob Smith, Mike Byram, David Corbin, Mark Core and Vince Newendorp.

After lunch, students toured plants six and seven of Vermeer. Dale Andringa also participated in the tour and pointed out various items to students for further discussion. The plant tour at Vermeer was followed by a visit to the Lely plant, where the VILP students listened to a presentation, toured the plant and viewed a demonstration of Lely’s robotic milking system. The cohort’s visit to Vermeer ended with interviews, in which VILP students were matched based on their current majors and future career aspirations with corporate staff who had similar roles.

“This year we added a visit to the Vermeer museum, where the students gained a better understanding of the Vermeer family history as well as the roots of the company and the ingenuity of some of Gary Vermeer’s first inventions,” Edberg said. “We capped off the day with a visit to the Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, which is always a hit with the students."

Members of the 2016-17 VILP cohort tour the Vermeer museum in Pella, Iowa.
Members of the 2016-17 VILP cohort tour the Vermeer museum in Pella, Iowa.

Edberg and Pilcher are now finalizing plans for the cohort’s trip to Amsterdam on Jan. 4-11, 2017. While in the Netherlands, the students will tour both the Vermeer and Lely facilities. Students also will meet with THNK Amsterdam, a leadership development institute, and Amnesty International. Additionally, students will tour the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank Museum and the Prison Gate Museum to learn more about the history and culture of Amsterdam.

"We are excited to see the itinerary for our trip to the Netherlands come together,” Edberg said. “This year, in addition to the usual cultural activities and tours of the Vermeer and Lely plants, we have added meetings with Amnesty International and the THNK School for Creative Leadership and Innovation. These visits should set the stage for our study of global leadership as well as group projects for our second semester class.” In spring 2017, the cohort will take LD ST 370x, “Special Topics in Leadership Studies: Global Leadership,” with Edberg.

In addition to organizing leadership activities for the 2016-2017 VILP cohort, Edberg, Pilcher and Emily Ramm, the program’s undergraduate student assistant, are making plans to recruit and select the 2017-2018 cohort of students. Applications for the 2017-2018 cohort opened on Nov. 1 and are due on Feb. 1. A link to the application can be found here.

The VILP is designed for students with an interest in engineering, business or agriculture. All full-time undergraduate students at Iowa State University are eligible to apply. Priority is given to students with at least two academic years remaining in their plan of study. Students selected take two leadership classes together, one in the fall and one in the spring semesters; participate in leadership development activities outside of the classroom; receive a $2,000 academic year scholarship; and participate in an international leadership experience.