Profile Final- Chris Benson

December 8th, 2016


While on the way to Mapelton, IA to judge an FFA Radio competition, Chris Benson’s mind was focused on multiple other tasks. Immediately after departing the college, the trip was briefly delayed by a stop at the post office. Once the trip resumed, Benson’s cell phone rang and he answered abruptly.

The mainder of the short trip was a juggling act between phone conversations and making small talk with his passenger. His left hand rested comfortably on the steering wheel of his crew cab pickup, while his right clutched his cell phone. Benson was oblivious to how his cell phone had become an added appendage. The passenger was oblivious that this was his niche lifestyle.

Benson, a 1994 Morningside graduate has always been passionate about working in the agriculture industry. He is also fond of a busy lifestyle. With his degree in Livestock Marketing, he started off his post college life at the Dakota City, NE Tyson beef plant.

A year later, he got into Pork Sales and became a Telephone Sales Representative (TSR) at Corporate in Dakota Dunes, SD.

“I spent a good majority of the time of the first ten years at Tyson on the phone selling pork and beef. I like the fast pace of the meat industry,” commented Benson.

During that time period, Benson had many different titles and responsibilities. He was the Sales Manager for pork bellies and was then promoted to Director of Pork Sales and Pricing. Eventually, he moved up in the ranks to be the VP of that department.

Benson especially enjoyed working as the VP for Pork Sales and Pricing. “It was a great challenge,” explained Benson. He liked how there was something new each day and that the markets were always changing.

Benson was moved away from his niche nd into foreign territory. He transitioned into being the VP of Business Development, where he was in charge of new product development. Benson described that the pace was different.

He admitted, “This was honestly not my strength.”

This change of pace changed even more than Benson had originally intended. The opportunity to work at the Tyson Headquarters in Springdale, AR came up. With a leap of faith, Benson accepted the new challenge. The Northwest Iowa native moved down South. For three years, his main focus at work was to develop and manage a new division in the Foodservice Group.

Arkansas was not all it was cut out to be. Everything was different. The job. Pace. Lifestyle. Benson decided that the upper Midwest was the best place for him and returned to Dakota Dunes with the same role, only in the Fresh Meats department.

When Benson came back, he had to adjust back into another lifestyle.

“That was in 2009 and I was really checked out of my career at that point.  I was searching for a change. I had a good friend tell me ‘if you are thinking of making a change, don’t let go of the vine you’re on until you have one in reach.’  I think that is great advice for anyone out there that might be burned out or ready to quit.”

 After spending twenty years with Tyson, Benson found the change he was looking for. However, this time it was in familiar territory. In 2014 Benson came back to Morningside. Not as a student, but as a faculty member.

Chris Benson is currently the Director of the Applied Agricultural and Food Studies Department. The Ag department was just recently added back into the school’s curriculum. Benson’s role is to build industry relationships and manage the externship program. He also teaches some classes as well. One of them being a markets class.

Instead of selling pork bellies, he is now selling the Morningside Ag program and why people should hire its students.

Sophomore Ag students Nicole Langbein and Melissa Pauley will each be participating in the externship program their senior year. This program is similar to an internship; however, the student spends the whole semester just working at the industry best fit for them.

Langbein and Pauley are both confident with Benson’s abilities to make them marketable in the workforce.

“I am confident in his abilities because he has been involved in the agriculture industry and has valuable experience,” explains Langbein.

They also agree that his position at the college suits him well.

Pauley states, “Given Mr. Benson’s past work experience as a salesperson, I feel his position within the Ag department is an excellent niche for him to utilize his skills. His work with employers to set up internships and externships is, in a way, selling the student to an employer.”

It seems unanimous that Morningside is a good fit for Benson.

“I like that I’m still being very busy. Sometimes too busy,” Benson admits. He is still in constant communication by spending lots of time on the phone. Benson also likes how this job allows him to spend more time outside of the office.

Once again Benson has found his niche. He found it right back where he had started. At Morningside College.

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