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Shannon Latham is vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, a family-owned seed company headquartered in North Central Iowa. The company, which celebrated its 70th year of business in 2017, was founded by Willard Latham. Today, two of Willard’s grandsons also own and manage the business.

As co-owner of Latham Seeds, Shannon directs the company’s overall marketing initiatives, including social media, paid advertising and public relations. Prior to joining Latham Seeds full time in 2008, Shannon operated her own communications/public relations business. She also has worked in an advertising agency and served as a state lobbyist for agribusiness.

Shannon is passionate about agriculture literacy and encouraging young people to pursue careers in agriculture. She puts her passions into practice at her Enchanted Acres pumpkin patch in Sheffield, Iowa, where she plans weekly fall events and blogs all year long. For her efforts, Shannon was named to the FarmHer Hall of Fame in 2016.

What entrepreneurship means to me…

Entrepreneurship is a mindset and a way of life. It also comes with a great deal of responsibility as business owners are looked upon to provide leadership within their companies and within their communities. As a person who has always welcomed challenges and opportunities, I find this energizing. I thrive on change and appreciate that there really isn’t such a thing as “a typical day” on the job. I love that each day holds something new, so I’m continually learning. I truly enjoy having a hand in shaping our business and nurturing its growth. I enjoy working with aspiring business professionals and employees on personal growth and development. I take pride that we’re providing good jobs for families in North Iowa. I also take pride in being a part of the agricultural community because we’re literally helping feed the world. How noble is that?

Why students should become involved with AgEI…

You don’t ever have to start a business or own a business to benefit from entrepreneurship classes and activities. Involvement with AgEI provides so many benefits from teaching sound business practices to networking with business professionals. Knowing how to apply knowledge and knowing others are two keys to professional success. In our family-owned business, we seek out employees with an entrepreneurial mindset as they’re problem solvers and innovators. They come up with creative ideas to make our business more efficient, more profitable and even more engaged in the community.

shannon latham

Roger Underwood is a proud Iowa State alumnus from the class of 1980. After earning a degree in Agricultural Business, he worked in the ag chemical industry for two years before co-founding Becker Underwood, Inc. in 1982. 

Under his leadership as CEO, Becker Underwood expanded from a single facility business to a multi-national corporation with operations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Following 23 years as CEO at Becker Underwood, Roger stepped back from daily operations in January 2006. The company was sold to BASF in 2012.

As an Iowa State alumnus, Roger was active in forming the College of Agriculture Alumni Association, serving as its second president and founding member.  In 1996, Roger was named Outstanding Agribusiness Alumni of the Year by the ISU Ag Business Club, and was named Order of the Knoll Outstanding Young Alumni in 2000, and in 2008 received the Floyd Andre Award for outstanding accomplishments in business and service to the College.  Roger is a Board Member of the ISU Foundation Board of Governors, and also serves the Crop Life American Foundation, Ames Seed Capital, and the College of Ag Deans advisory committee.

In the private sector, Roger serves on the Board of Directors for Kent Corporation and Albaugh, LLC. He is also a private investor for start-up agricultural businesses.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you? 

“Creating tomorrow” is what I think of when I coach entrepreneurship to students. While many are happy to work for someone else and execute their business plan—I think of making my own business plan and walking my own path with something I have created.  There is no “right way” to create value in the market place—meaning working for someone else is not only honorable, it is a good decision for many to walk down that path. Tomorrow can be better however, if certain students create their own product, service, or idea and embrace it in the market place.  Creating tomorrow can be rewarding and valuable!

Why should students engage in AgEI activities?  

The Ag Entrepreneurship program can be a warm and inviting place for those who want to create their own path.  The mentorship a student can receive and the excitement they can add to the program through their ideas and energy can create a symbiotic opportunity to grow and emerge a business leader creating wealth for oneself and others around you.  Meeting successful entrepreneurs and challenging others with new ideas, new products, and new opportunities can be the most invigorating parts of any college experience. 

roger underwood
October 16, 2019 8:19 AM

EllieMae Millenkamp, a senior in Agricultural Business, grew up feeding calves, collecting milk samples, and completing office work on her family's dairy farm in Jerome, Idaho.

About, Business development
September 24, 2019 12:46 PM

The Student Incubator Program offers students the early resources required for starting and building a business. Dave Krog, AgEI Entrepreneur in Residence, and Joe Riley, entrepreneurial business leader, serve as mentors for the group.

Business incubation, Mentorship, Student program
September 18, 2019 9:21 AM

“Often times we put up our own biggest barriers, thinking we aren’t an engineer or expert on something, so how can we ever build something people want?

Business development, Business incubation, Community
September 3, 2019 2:21 PM

“AgEI gave me the foundation necessary to start my own business. The connections gained through the program and my time at Iowa State have been instrumental to the success of my business, thus far.”

Business development, Community, Mentorship
August 23, 2019 12:19 PM

Elizabeth Hoppe (’13 Finance and Marketing) spends most of her days in a coffee shop. And no, she isn’t blogging, studying, or catching up with a friend.

Business development, Community
August 20, 2019 10:32 AM

The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative offered a new pilot program during the summer of 2019. This part-time program, the Rural Entrepreneurship Academy, was geared towards students who were interested in opening a business or farm in a rural setting. Those participating in t

Mentorship, Student program
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