News - Full circle: GU alum gives industry experience to current students

Full circle: GU alum gives industry experience to current students

by Sarah Thomack Full circle: GU alum gives industry experience to current students

Harley (Tompkins ’17) Rensing has gone a long way since her time at Greenville University.

Just not literally.

Rensing took her talents just down the street from campus to the Greenville square and is using her GU experience to offer experiential learning opportunities for current students. 

Rensing transferred to GU (Greenville College at the time) to complete her bachelor of science with a focus in environmental biology. Rensing says she grew up in the area, went off to junior college in Champaign for two years, and wanted to attend a school close to home to complete her degree.

“I wanted to go somewhere that had small class sizes and a good feel,” Rensing says. “I wanted to know I would be able to get time with my professors so if I struggled, I had the option to talk to them and I wasn’t just a number.”

After her experience in Greenville, Rensing wanted to do something to benefit both the GU and Greenville community. She now works for a small startup company, CommoditAg, an ecommerce agriculture business that works with suppliers and manufacturers of ag products to sell direct to farmers. Rensing says it was important to her to be based in Greenville, and to be able to work with the University to hire interns. The Greenville SMART Center offered the perfect opportunity for CommoditAg to rent office space for its remote business.

“To bring that back into a small community like Greenville was really important to me, because a lot of the time, interns are having to go to bigger cities,” Rensing says. “I was really hoping to bring something to the town that was new and give them the opportunity to have an internship in a different business space that’s still relatively new to the agriculture industry.”

Rensing fondly remembers her internship with Syngenta in Pierron, along with hands-on experience in classes with professors Andrea and Eric Nord, which gave her valuable experience that prepared her for her current agribusiness career.

Now, Rensing strives to offer an internship with CommoditAg that gives students that valuable real-world experience. She doesn’t just want to bring them in to make coffee; she says she ensures they are involved with meaningful work and projects with real value. In the process, she hopes they will see if the ag space is something they like and want to pursue — goals that fit right in with GU’s experiential learning model.

Tori Dall ’20 was the first intern Rensing brought on, and all of those goals were realized. Dall gained hands-on experience with order processing, onboarding with fulfillment centers, customer care, and much more. After graduation, Dall joined the CommoditAg team fulltime and continues to work with Rensing out of the SMART Center.

Rensing hopes to bring on one to two interns a year who have an interest in agribusiness or marketing and be able to continue providing quality experiential learning close to the GU campus.

This story was published on June 09, 2021