Week 10 at GreenStone FCS Credit

Yesterday, I was able to shadow one of the other interns, Jamie, while she mapped some apple orchards. She is in 493 as well, so if this all sounds familiar, that’s why!

We started the day by laminating some orchard maps, which I thought would be exciting since we don’t get to laminate things in the CLU, but it really wasn’t. After that, we hit the road and found our first orchard.

We prepared the company drone, but had to put that flight on hold because the farmer was spraying and we felt we probably shouldn’t be in his way, so we just started counting the rows. Jamie taught me how to identify several different varieties of apple trees. I included a picture of a red delicious tree. You can tell that it is red delicious because the apples are very long. We spent pretty much the whole day just driving through orchards and counting trees.

We did have an exciting moment when we got a flat tire in the middle of an orchard. The picture below is her tire after the tire guy took a look at it.

I also did get to see the drone at work. That was really cool because Jamie doesn’t even have to fly it manually, she just selects the area of a field on the gps map, and then the drone plans a flight path and just goes on its own! It’s crazy how loud the drone is, even when it is 300 feet in the air. Thank you, Jamie, for taking me out for such an adventurous day!

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GreenStone Credit Week 9

This week has been fairly uneventful. Since I was on vacation last week, I am very behind on my workload, so this week and next will be all about getting caught up. We have a progress meeting for the peer comparison project next week, so I would like to be as close to done with my portion as possible by then. I spend Tuesday in Grand Rapids preparing the database for this meeting with the other interns. We made significant progress on reworking through all the formulas and charts within the database.

The internship has absolutely flown by. We only have 5 weeks left after this one, and I don’t know if I’ll have time to finish everything I have been assigned! I need to start working on my PowerPoint that will showcase everything I’ve done this summer for the board of directors.

As an intern group, we have planned a “fun day” for all of the interns. After we present to the board of directors in August, we will spend the remainder of the work day at an escape room doing some team bonding! We will get some ice cream and a well deserved break to wrap up a successful summer at GreenStone.

 

GreenStone Credit Week 8

I am actually on vacation this week, but I saved one of my favorite experiences from the summer thus far to talk about.

A few weeks ago, I went on an appraisal of an egg-laying operation. This was exciting because I’ve never been on a laying operation before, but also because they did all of there packaging and sorting in-house. This was a chattel appraisal, so we were focused on evaluating the equipment, feed, and animals. We were unable to enter any of the barns due to biosecurity concerns, and we did not look at feed because an outside company had recently completed an in depth review of the operation. It’s kind of crazy that there were over 100,000 birds and I didn’t see a single one, but it definitely smelled like they were there.

We were able to go inside the processing building to see the eggs being sorted and packaged for delivery. Unfortunately, the farm manager preferred I not take pictures inside, so I can’t share what it looked like, but it was pretty amazing. The eggs produced on this farm are never touched by a human hand, which means the consumer is the very first to lay a hand on the eggs.

While the farm manager drove us around, we got to talking about regulatory policies in the industry. He said that Michigan is mandating that there be a higher volume of space per bird than other states, driving up production costs, but not affording protection to Michigan producers. This means that eggs can be produced in other states for less money, and then sold in Michigan at a lower cost than Michigan producers can work with. This has been a huge issue that they are working to overcome.

Another interesting fact that I learned is that the mortality rate and stress levels for cage-free birds is significantly higher than that for caged birds. Eggs from caged birds tend to be higher quality and less likely to be broken in the hen house. This is why it is always important to get your ag facts from a farmer, who actually knows about his animals!

GreenStone Credit Week 7

I had the Fourth of July off, and I would have had Monday off as well, but I was asked to go on another appraisal, so I went in for around four hours to do that. One other intern and I shadowed the appraiser on a small dairy. This was a chattel appraisal, so we evaluated all of the machinery and equipment, and counted cows. Counting cows is a lot harder than it sounds.

Yesterday, I shadowed one of GreenStone’s crop insurance specialists. We are in the middle of acreage reporting, so it was a very busy day, with four calls scheduled. This is the time of year where farmers are done planting, so they have to report what they planted and how much to their crop insurance provider. We get a report from FSA and compare it to what the farmers reported to us. That took up the entire day, but we still had time to stop at Mooville for some ice cream.

Today, I shadowed an FSO. We had a loan closing in the morning, and then went out to visit customers. We didn’t really have a reason to visit anyone, but the FSO tries to visit customers when he can to maintain relationships. Most of our visits were uneventful, but one customer took us out crop scouting. We did beans, wheat, and corn. Then, he pulled up to one of his barns. I was pretty surprised when we went inside and it was a haunted house. He took us through and showed us all of the illusions and his animatronics. I was not expecting that in the slightest.

As you can tell, I had a very eventful week!

GreenStone Credit Week 5

This week, I had the opportunity to go out on a real estate appraisal for a dairy! I shadowed Amanda Ruggles for the day as we toured a dairy farm in the thumb. Due to confidentiality concerns, I can’t be very descriptive of the dairy, but I can describe what we did.

First off, we took a lot of pictures. It was important to identify and note the condition of all buildings and improvements on the property. The pictures will go into the appraisal report, and they also serve to help Amanda remember her observations.

We also took at lot of measurements using a measurement wheel. We had to measure the size of all barns and bunks, and even just flat concrete pads. We toured the milking parlor and took notes on that, and of course, took several pictures.

After we finished the main farm, we got in the car to appraise the fields. I should mention that it was pouring rain all morning while we were out on the farm, and it cleared up right when we got back in the car. The farmer was nice enough to drive us around the property in the gator.

As we drove around taking pictures of the fields, I asked Amanda how she got into appraisal, which was interesting. She was working at GreenStone as a Customer Service Representative when the appraisal position opened up, and she applied because she was looking to change things up. Pretty soon, we had wrapped up all of the fields. One thing we did while driving was scanning for the environmental report, which is essentially checking for gas tanks.

After that, we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream, the perfect end to the day!

I included some pictures I took throughout the day. We didn’t count cows or anything like that because that is part of chattel appraisal, not real estate, but I am hoping to get out with a chattel appraiser in the future!

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Greenstone Credit Week 4

This week has been fairly exciting at GreenStone. For the first three days, I keyed financials. We have a large backlog, so that is what most of my days consist of. On Thursday, the other Commercial Lending Unit (CLU) interns from East Lansing and I took a trip to Grand Rapids to visit the other CLU intern at his home branch.

The four of us are working on the peer comparison project, so we felt it would be good to take a day for all of us to sit down in a conference room and work together to develop a project management plan for completing the project. We spent the morning completing that. We went out to lunch and ate at a small, local diner, where I had the world’s best Philly cheesesteak. It was so good that I felt it was important to mention here.

On Friday, I worked out of Caro again. It was a very productive day. I was able to interview a Financial Services Officer and shadow a credit analyst. Then, I sat down with an analyst who was an intern last year and was able to ask questions about our peer comparison project.

GreenStone Week 3

This week, I spent a lot of my time catching up on keying financials. I fell a bit behind the other interns as I got a round of particularly difficult ones. Once I finished that up on Tuesday, I did some work on my intern project, the Peer Comparison. This is similar to keying financials, except I am taking financial information and putting into an Excel spreadsheet to look at client farms side by side. That was my focus for the rest of the week.

Thursday was a pretty exciting day. We had Commercial Lending Unit training for around three hours in the morning, which was about as fun as it sounds, but it is a necessary evil and I was able to learn a lot from it. In the afternoon, we went to the Lansing Lugnuts game. Everyone in the department cut loose a little bit and I was able to get to know my coworkers much better than before.

The game was also an excellent opportunity to give some feedback to my supervisor about how the internship has been going. I was able to tell him how I felt the other interns and I were kind of boxed off and not learning as much as we could be and suggest some ways that we could get out of our cubicles and learn from the credit analysts. I’m glad that I had the chance to do that, and I’m looking forward to learning more about what a credit analyst’s day looks like.

Week One at GreenStone Farm Credit Services

This was actually my third week as a GreenStone credit intern. To begin the internship, the eight other interns and I spent two days in orientation, where we learned about the background of the company, as well as the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and policies that we would be expected to follow as employees. We got a tour of the corporate office building, where I work, and of course, got our pictures taken for the staff directory.

On the third day, all of us interns were set loose upon our departments. I am assigned to the Commercial Lending Unit (CLU) with two other interns. When I reported to work, I met with my supervisor, and was shown to the cubicle that will be my home for the summer. I plan on decorating a little bit and getting a plant at some point. For the remainder of Week 1, I completed my online training courses.

At the beginning of Week 2, I began training to “key” financials. This is the process of taking a paper (or scanned) financial document that a customer sends in, such as a balance sheet or tax return, and entering it into our online system so that the data can be easily manipulated and interpreted by the credit analysts. These documents tend to arrive in the spring, so there is a large backlog of financials that must be keyed right now, which is what I will be focused on throughout the summer.

One of the goals of my manager is for me to be out of the office one day a week shadowing another GreenStone employee, such as an appraiser, or a financial services officer. I was unable to arrange a ride along for that week, so I took a day to work from the Caro branch. My trip out to the thumb was very fun. I liked the closer knit environment of a branch compared to working at corporate.

Week 3 has consisted mostly of keying financials so far. On Tuesday, I was introduced to my intern project, that I will be working on with three other interns. Past credit interns have compiled a large document called the Peer Comparison which enables us to look at our customer’s operations side by side. Using this tool, we can compare benchmarks between similarly sized farms. My task will be adding the 2016 data to this document, and hopefully making some improvements!