Soybean Checkoff Helps Move Concept to Cutting-edge Tool

What started as a project in a classroom has quickly grown into one of the most effective tools for scouting crops — and it’s about to get better.

Inspired by his “clunky” experience with carbon copies, hand-drawn notes and a pocket manual, Michael Koenig developed the concept for ScoutPro during an Entrepreneurship in Agriculture class at Iowa State University (ISU).

“With the carbon copies I scouted with it was pretty hard to pull a 300 page binder out and derive information from my hand-written notes…

Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Finalists Battle on Stage to Win Big

After being selected out of 200 applicants, four companies went to battle  for the chance to be named Entrepreneur of the Year and win big to grow their budding business ventures.

In a “Shark Tank” style set up, each contestant gave a short pitch to four judges and answered six minutes of questions in an attempt to convince them that their company will bring the greatest improvement to rural America. If that wasn’t pressure enough, the pitches were in front of a live audience on the trade show stage, as well as streamed online for viewers across the nation.

Farm Bureau Renew Rural Iowa Award Winner Advances to National Finals for Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative Challenge

“ScoutPro” Chosen as One of Four Finalists to Compete for Additional $25,000 in Prize Money at American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in San Diego

Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa (RRIA) program, which has helped more than 2,500 Iowans successfully own and grow their businesses, has helped ‘ScoutPro,’ a pest and weed identification tool, advance to the ‘Top 4’ of the national Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI) finals competition in San Diego, January 11th.

‘ScoutPro’ founders, Michael Koenig, Stuart McCulloh and Holden Nyhus won $15,000 for advancing to the ‘top 4’ national competition, and are now eligible to win $15,000 more in prize money, as well as a chance to vie for the $10,000 ‘People’s Choice Award.’

The ‘ScoutPro’ app puts the power of pest and weed identification on easily-accessible iPads or mobile devices, providing today’s farmers an effective tool to combat the threat of crop damage from pests. The app developers, who just graduated last year from Iowa State University, knew they had a great idea, but didn’t know how to turn that idea into a business. It all came together when a Farm Bureau RRIA presenter came to their entrepreneurship class. “The hands-on mentoring of IFBF’s Renew Rural Iowa program helped their dream get from the blackboard to investors’ boardrooms,” says Adam Koppes, IFBF investment manager. “We know there are more great ideas out there in Iowa, and making them a reality is what we do,” says Koppes. To learn more about the next RRIA seminar, “The Journey to Your Vision,” on January 13, 2015 in Newton, visit

The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the REI, a joint effort between AFBF and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. The REI is directly tied to AFBF’s mission of building strong and prosperous agricultural communities. The challenge will provide the finalists with prize money totaling $85,000 to implement their ideas.

Semi-Finalists Named in First National Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Semi-Finalists Named in First National Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 2014 – The American Farm Bureau Federation together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas today announced the 10 national semi-finalists of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural regions of the United States.

AFBF President Bob Stallman made the announcement at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The semi-finalist businesses, chosen from more than 200 applicants, will advance to the next phase of the challenge. They include:

ATP-SC (Allendale, South Carolina), a process to convert plant and woody biomass into bio-products. Team lead: Joe James;

Branches, Inc. (Neosho, Missouri), an online, STEM-based learning platform that teaches design and fabrication. Team lead: David Parsons;

Fergus Foods (Fergus Falls, Minnesota), a rural food entrepreneur incubator and rental facility. Team lead: Robert Fuglie;

Senior Move Management (Palmyra, Missouri), customized moving and relocation services for older Americans. Team lead: Suzanne Ellerbrock;

Mobile Rural Veterinary Clinic (Panhandle, Texas), a mobile veterinary satellite clinic serving rural communities. Team lead: Joe Hillhouse;

Pasturebird, LLC (Temecula, California), a cost-effective method of producing pastured poultry on a large scale. Team lead: Paul Greive;

Pulaski Grow (Pulaski, Virginia), an aquaponics facility to provide local youth with job training. Team lead: Lee Spiegel;

ScoutPro (Lone Tree, Iowa), software to assist farmers with crop maintenance. Team lead: Michael Koenig;

Shelf Life (Arlington, Tennessee), a hydroponic growing system for small producers. Team lead: Glenn Cunningham;

StopFlood Appliance Systems (Inkom, Idaho), a product to prevent floods caused by washing machine hose failures. Team lead: Brent Singley.