Student from Bottineau knew very little about sugar beets; now, she works with them every week

    When Amanda Monson started working with Jason Brantner, a researcher at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center, she knew very little if anything about sugar beets. Now, she spends time learning about them every week.

    The senior from Bottineau, N.D., is majoring in agronomy and her work at the Research Center came about after a tour during plant pathology class. “When Jason, who gave the tour, mentioned a possible opportunity for students to work there, I was interested immediately,” Monson says.

    Now in her second year, she assists with running soil assays, counts seedlings and pulls any that are unhealthy for Brantner to examine under the microscope to determine what went wrong.

    “Jason recognizes everything under the microscope so learning from him about diseases and soil treatments is really interesting to me,” Monson continues. “I can go to the store to buy sugar I may have helped bring to market through the work being done in the lab at the Research Center. That’s exciting.”

    Last summer Monson interned for ProAgri, Inc., in Bottineau as a crop scout. She loved being outside, and as she describes it, “playing in the dirt.” Scouting fields of wheat, barley, sunflowers, and even chickpeas made for a summer filled with work Monson loved.

    Her internship and working at the NWROC, along with her classes in agronomy have Monson headed in the right direction. “I thought growing up on a beef cattle farm, I would major in animal science, but I love soils and seeds and agronomy is the best fit for me,” she says.

    That discovery doesn’t mean that cattle are out of the picture for Monson as she hopes to someday have cattle of her own. “I love calving time, and although agronomy is my chosen field, I still would like to be involved in raising cattle,” she explains. “It is a part of who I am.”

    Soil morphology, the study of the characteristics and properties of the soil observable in various soil layers, has become a favorite for her. The class, which she is taking as an independent study with Associate Professor Kristie Walker, is especially interesting to Monson. She also finds classes with her advisor Rob Proulx engaging as well.

    When it comes to her greatest influences in life, Monson answers without hesitation—my grandpa. “He has farmed his whole life and he has been an example to me and to my siblings. He works because he wants to and growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and I hope some of his work ethic rubbed off on me,” she smiles.

    Her grandfather is not only hard working but innovative. “My grandpa is the inventor of Brandjord Tarps, a track tarp designed for trucks,” Monson says. “He is a role model for me in his farming and in his ability to problem solve.”

    Monson will head back to Bottineau after she graduates in May 2018. “I want to go back to my home and to my history,” she says. “It’s in my blood.”