Meet Amy Asmus: ICCA’s Vice Chair

Jan. 1, 2012 -- The path Iowa native Amy Asmus took through the field of agronomy is unlike many of her fellow CCAs. She didn’t grow up on a farm and she didn’t get a degree related to the farming industry. After she married her husband, Harlan, they moved back to his hometown of Rake, IA, where Harlan worked with his father, Harvey, at Asmus Farm Supply, a family-owned chemical supply company that has been in the industry since 1960 .Amy helped out where she could with the business but became more involved in 2004 when she and Harlan bought the business from Harvey.

“Asmus Farm Supply is the main reason I became a CCA,” she says. "I didn't really know agriculture, but I needed to in order to become effective at helping our customers."

Now she is the vice president of the well-established agricultural supply company that celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2010. The husband-and-wife team is also involved in SecureTracs, a collaboration of experienced agronomists in the field of asset tracking and tank reconditioning. In January, she will serve as the new vice chair of the executive committee of the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) board after five years of involvement in the CCA program.

Asmus attended Iowa State University (ISU), where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. Since graduating from ISU, she has remained involved with the university, specifically the ISU extension program and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

From 1998–2000, Asmus served on the founding board, as well as the legislative committee, of the Iowa Association of County Extension Councils (IACEC), an organization that focuses on the communication of ISU extension county councils throughout the state. She also served on the ISU Agriculture Education board from 2008–2010. Currently, Asmus is the vice chair of the ISU Excellence in Extension Fund, a program designed to enrich ISU extension educational programs by offering grants and awards to extension personnel.

Asmus’ active involvement with her alma mater has provided her with the connections needed to successfully serve as the vice chair on the ICCA Board.

“I’ve always partnered with ISU extension,” says Asmus, who looked to the university while preparing to take her CCA exam. “They had a lot of great resources I could use to learn what I needed to know.”

Meeting the educational requirements

Asmus says that whether you have an agriculture-related degree or not, everyone must display the same amount of minimal knowledge in order to become a CCA. “It’s a tough requirement, but that’s what I like about it,” she says. “With the required continuing education hours, [the CCA program] makes it easy to keep up on all the latest changes in the field.”

The CCA program is unique in the sense that anyone interested in becoming certified can take the test. “If they ever make it a degree program, it would be a shame,” says Asmus, who is grateful to be certified as a crop adviser after receiving a degree in an unrelated field. “I have three children. Back then, there was no way my schedule would allow for me going back to school. This was my replacement of an agriculture degree.”

In order to be considered for the ICCA board, one must pass a local and international CCA exam, both covering four competency areas: nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management, and crop management. “I passed the international exam, but failed the local exam my first time,” laughs Asmus, who quickly learned from her mistakes. “I passed the state test my second time, so I encourage people that if you don’t pass the test the first time, there’s always the second, third, or fourth time.”

As 2012 approaches and Asmus prepares for her term as the ICCA board vice chair, she says that communication is at the top of the list of important issues she’ll focus on. “Communication is key. Whether it’s with people who employ CCAs, whether it’s with the government, or whether it’s with students who are going to become CCAs, communication to all of these people is going to be important,” she says.

Asmus, who will be the first woman to serve on the ICCA board, has utilized the CCA program in a way that truly validates its existence. She is now part of a team of international crop advisers who share a common goal, regardless of their careers or backgrounds.

“That’s one of the things I love about the CCA program. It doesn’t matter whose name you wear on your shirt,” says Asmus. “We’re all agronomists, and we’re all working towards the same thing: to give the best advice to our growers.”