Former Inver Hills student seeking doctorate in crop and soil science
Jordyn Bush, 22, resides in New Market, Minnesota, but she’s hardly ever home. Besides majoring in agronomy—the science of soil management and crop production—at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, Jordy works four jobs and serves as a Special Olympics certified equestrian coach. She’s also a champion horsewoman, excelling at Western pleasure and show jumping.
“I started riding at the age of two,” said Jordy, who owns two horses, a leopard appaloosa named Monkey and an off-the-track thoroughbred (OTTB) named Ty. In 2016, Jordy and Monkey were grand champions at the Minnesota State Fair, taking home blue ribbons in the halter and ranch pleasure competitions. “I’m happiest when I’m on horseback.”
Three words that describe you as a person:
DRIVEN. STRONG. SASSY! (Ha.)
Originally from Stow, Ohio, Jordy graduated from the MTS Minnesota Connections Academy in 2013. She was earning her Associate of Science (A.S.) in Biology at Inver Hills Community College when she suffered a severe concussion that impeded her vision, memory and language functions. Forced to take a medical withdrawal from her classes, she endured an exceedingly challenging therapy regimen on her way to a full recovery.
“I loved my time at Inver hills,” Jordy said. “I chose the college because the campus is close to home and tuition is affordable. What I liked best about Inver Hills were my biology instructors, Bob Iwan, Heidi Wetherall and Kristin Digiulio. They were my power trio. All three really pushed me and inspired me and helped open up doorways I never would have even considered knocking on.”
Microbiology hearts agriculture
Jordy’s favorite course at Inver was BIOL 2305, better known as Microbiology, a four-credit investigation of microbial groups, microbial cell structure, nutrition, growth, control of growth, metabolism, genetics, evolution, epidemiology, infection, transmission and pathogenesis, and interactions with host organisms. In addition to gaining direct experience in the safe handling and manipulation of pathogenic and potentially pathogenic microbes, Jordy discovered over and over again how microbiology related to agronomy, her new career path.
“My instructor, Bob Iwan, used to work for the USDA and he knew I wanted to be an agronomist,” she said. “Bob is an awesome teacher and he always found a way to connect whatever we were working on that day to agriculture. He made sure everything I learned was relevant to my future career.”
“Jordy was a leader in my classroom, setting the tone for the entire class,” Bob said. “I’m thrilled we connected so well and that I was able to contribute to her education. Students like Jordy are what makes my job rewarding.”
Jordy has stayed in touch with Bob and she even went on a field trip with his microbiology students after she started at UWRF.
“Bob knows I love cows,” she said. “He invited me to Princeton, Minnesota, to visit a dairy farm to review a method of methane digestion. I said, of course, I would go.”
While at Inver, Jordy worked with Kristin Digiulio, biology faculty and agricultural sciences coordinator, on the Ag Roadshow, a hands-on, interactive experience for middle schoolers that explores the myriad STEM career opportunities in modern agriculture, one of the most critical sectors in the global economy. Sponsored by CHS and a partnership between University of Minnesota Extension, Dakota County 4-H and the Inver Hills Biology department, the Ag Roadshow has a secret weapon to connect with kids, two lovable goats, Ethel and Lucy. Jordy has two lovable goats of her own at home, Betty and Bambi.
“When I started at Inver Hills, I was thinking about pre-med and possibly a career in anesthesiology,” Jordy said. “After a while, I began to wonder if I wanted to be cooped up inside all day in a career I chose only for the money.
One day I was in Kristin’s office and we were talking about agriculture and we happened across the field of agronomy. And I thought, okay, what is agronomy? Turns out that science was exactly what I was looking for.”
For Jordy, discovering agronomy was a classic eureka moment. She loves the outdoors and all things farming. One of her four jobs is working on a dairy farm near her home in New Market. She is proud of her experiential ag skills and has even learned how to drive a Case IH 7230 Magnum tractor.
“I always just tell people, ‘I like corn and dirt,'” she reported with a smile, “even though my UWRF soils professor would probably fall over knowing I was using the word, ‘dirt.’ It’s like a swear word in her class.”
Kristin noted that Jordy is a natural fit for a field bursting with so many diverse and rewarding opportunities to make a lasting difference.
“Jordy already had an incredible understanding of the breadth of agriculture when I met her,” she said, “and she was obviously very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about so many of its aspects. She was clear about what she wanted to get out of a career—it was just a matter of narrowing it down. I am thrilled to see her find her place in agronomy because we need smart, motivated people like her if we plan to keep eating.”
Kristin added that Jordy not only loves agriculture, but she has also been generous with her time and talent in promoting the college’s efforts to spread the word about ag careers.
“Along with helping out with the Ag Roadshow—kids love her, Jordy also volunteered with our Summer Academy for Environmental, Food & Agricultural Sciences for high school students,” Kristin said. “She works her butt off and is always willing to share her knowledge and passion. It is so rewarding to help students like her find where they want to be.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Jordy would like to continue her schooling, eventually earning her Ph.D. in agronomy. “I’m pretty open to wherever life takes me,” she said, “but my ultimate goal is to own my own consulting company.”
CHS Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline
During her time at Inver Hills, Jordy received a $1,000 CHS Aspire, Accelerate, Advance! (A3) Scholarship for Agriculture Careers. The scholarship award is based on evidence of commitment to agriculture and career goals, academic achievement, challenging life circumstances, leadership and volunteerism. Founded in 1929, CHS is a diversified farmer-owned Fortune 100 company that employs more than 12,500 people in 25 countries. As part of the CHS stewardship focus, CHS supports organizations like Inver Hills that develop future leaders for agriculture through education and leadership programs. Visit the CHS website to learn more about CHS and giving back.
“I was really gunning for the ag scholarship when I applied,” Jordy recalled. “CHS is a great company and I’d love to work for them someday. I work four jobs on top of school and my mom puts in a lot of hours at her job so we can pay for school without any loans. The CHS A3 Scholarship was a nice break from the normal tuition we were paying each semester.”
Funded by a $250,000 grant from CHS, the Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline Program is designed to introduce thousands of students from across Minnesota to an abundance of career choices in STEM careers linked to agriculture and the environment. In April 2017, CHS presented the Inver Hills Foundation with a check for $50,000, the fourth of five payments of the $250,000 award to support the program.
“More opportunities are available than ever before in the fields of food, agriculture and the environmental sciences, yet we have a critical shortage of qualified graduates,” said Gail Morrison, executive director of the Inver Hills Foundation. “The CHS Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline Program raises student awareness about the hundreds of different jobs that help feed humankind and save the planet. The program provides students with a whole new world of career choices.”
More about Jordy…
This summer Jordy is working on a presentation about farm animal forage analysis she will be giving at the 2017 International Annual Meeting hosted by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America in October in Tampa, Florida. Besides working on a dairy farm, she is a professional horseback riding instructor at the Wishbone Ranch in Hastings, Minnesota. She also has two bartender jobs, one at the Bourbon Butcher Kitchen + Bar in Farmington, Minnesota, and one at Kellerman’s Event Center in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, the latter establishment managed by her mom.
“I live with my mama,” Jordy said. “She’s the definition of a ‘Mamabear.’ Even all my friends know her as Mamabear. She couldn’t have had kids who wanted to play normal sports or do normal things. As soon as I could talk at two years old, I told her I wanted to ride horses. She didn’t know the first thing about horses, but twenty years later here we are with two horses and a wall full of awards.
“Now it’s sorta the same thing with college. She didn’t go to college. She didn’t know anything about agriculture. But she still supports me every step of the way. Even when I’m storing samples of corn silage in our fridge or bringing a loose goat in the house—she puts up with it! She works her tail off for me to succeed and I definitely learned that from her.”
Finishing college debt-free
Jordy’s mom raised her to believe going into debt is not normal. “So far I’ve been able to finance my education without taking out any loans,” Jordy said. “I’ve been working four jobs to pay for things as they come. I’m also super-adaptable and always ready to take on new challenges. I get that from my mama, too.”
Jordy has been riding horses going on two decades, or 90.9 percent of her 22 years. “It’s what I live for,” she said. “I also like to hike and spend time with my animals.”
Along with her horses, Monkey and Ty, she has a standard poodle named Izzy (after the ice cream shop in the Twin Cities), a rescue cat named Rousey (possibly after the Olympic medalist and UFC champion), two alpine dairy goats, Betty and Bambi, and a number of egg-laying hens. Jordy also enjoys traveling and target shooting; she owns a Beretta 380 handgun and a Mossberg 20-gauge shotgun. Her brother, Logan, 18, resides in her home state of Ohio with their father.
When asked what she would tell someone thinking about following one of the countless career paths in modern agriculture, she took a breath and grinned. “Just do it,” she said. “Like Nike, man.”
Jordy Bush | 22 Answers
- Favorite season: Summer
- Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Prairies or rivers—tough choice
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Riding
- Your national bird if you could have one: I’m fascinated by peacocks. So pretty, but so mean!
- Place you would most like to visit: Greece. Or anywhere in South America
- Favorite holiday: Fourth of July
- Your national mammal if you could have one: Unicorn
- Favorite actor or actress: Jennifer Lawrence
- Favorite band or performing artist: Chris Stapleton
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
- Coolest thing in the world: Sunrises. When everything is just waking up.
- Scariest thing in the world: Water. More specifically: drowning in it.
- Favorite all-time TV show: Orange Is the New Black
- Favorite all-time movie: The Hunger Games
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want people to know where their food comes from—and appreciate it.
- Most precious material possession: My grandpa’s kite
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: A new horse trailer
- Dream occupation: Traveling the world teaching people about agriculture.
- Person you would most like to meet: My great grandpa, Gus. Everyone always talks about how cool he was, but I never got to meet him.
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I speak English and Spanish (she’s minoring in Spanish at UWRF), but I would like to learn Greek; my ancestors come from Greece.
- Favorite all-time book: Any Michael Pollan book—In Defense of Food or The Botany of Desire
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: Misinformation and communication in general; miscommunication is often the root cause of small- and large-scale problems.
The missing kite…
“One of my best memories from growing up was flying kites with my Grandpa Dave. When my grandpa passed away, I was really hoping to have my favorite kite as a keepsake, but out of all his kites that one went missing. Then one day when I figured we would never see it again, we found the kite buried behind a bunch of stuff at his house. I have that kite now and it’s still flyable.”
— Jordy Bush
To learn more about the CHS Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline Program, contact:
Agricultural Sciences Coordinator