Hometown: Waverly, IA
Current employment/job title: John Deere, Kansas City, Customer Support Manager
What do you like about your job? Each day is a new challenge and the many opportunities available. An international company offers many opportunities and attracts a broad array of personality types, cultures, and experiences of individuals who may or may not have an agricultural background. Each day I have the chance to work on projects that are ultimately serving those individuals linked to the land.
How did you choose to work this job? While I could give the typical cliché reasons of the "Company Values" (which they do!) and being an "Agricultural Leader" (which they are!), it really came down to two things for me: Variety and opportunities. When deciding on the first career position, the Marketing Representative Development Program (MRDP) offered variety of experience similar to back-to-back internships within a company which was appealing as I had yet to decide exactly what I was looking for. At first, I was hesitant to work for large, international company as my internships were with mostly smaller companies (10-100 people), yet I’ve found that it is easy to network and, much like Iowa State University, the company has a small-town feel.
How did the Ag Business major prepare you for your position? My adventure at Iowa State provided many opportunities to develop a plethora of skills from presentation to teamwork and people skills to industry experience and business savvy. The Ag Business Major is designed to provide broad baseline experiences in agriculture while also allowing for customized focus in areas of interest with the remaining elective credits; my additional focuses were in Agricultural Technology (AST minor) and Business Management/Information Systems (MIS) as I felt they helped to round out my experiences and interest in Agriculture, Business, and Technology. The classroom experiences coupled with internships and extra-curricular including Agricultural Business Club, Alpha Gamma Rho, FFA, Student Alumni Leadership Council, and VEISHEA created opportunities to develop a broad array of skills which have propelled me in my current career.
The Iowa State Alumni Association awarded Ben Zelle the James A. Hopson Alumni Volunteer Award in October, 2019.
The award recognize ISU graduates, age 40 and under, who demonstrate early volunteer leadership in the ISU Alumni Association or alumni-related activities and who are members of the ISU Alumni Association.
Zelle embodies Cyclone spirit–and not just because he literally wore the body of beloved ISU mascot Cy during his undergraduate career, but because of the boundless energy, inspiring enthusiasm, and transformational generosity he has directed toward his alma mater since graduating in 2014.
Zelle, who works as a territory customer support manager for John Deere and Company, recently relocated from Ankeny, Iowa, to the Kansas City area. He will undoubtedly bring with him the skill and service he has consistently demonstrated at home in Iowa as a member of the ISU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Curtiss League, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, and National FFA Organization.
Zelle initially served the Young Alumni Council for one year as a student representative and was later selected to represent graduates under the age of 34 as an alumni member of the volunteer leadership organization. He went on to be elected chair of YAC, served as an associate to the ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and represented young alumni on multiple Alumni Association board committees.
As an inaugural member of the Curtiss League, Zelle has played a key role in recruiting members, engaging participants in programming, and supporting the recruitment of students to Iowa State. He also has continued his lifelong service to FFA through mentoring, as an Iowa FFA Foundation sponsorship committee member, and as a founding member of the John Deere FFA Alumni & Supporters.
Zelle and his wife, Allison (’15 graphic design), are ISU Alumni Association life members and members of the Order of the Knoll Campanile Society.