Kayla Beechinor will spend this summer phenotyping wheat for Limagrain in France

Kayla Beechinor

Agriculture is in Kayla Beechinor’s DNA. She’s the seventh generation on her family’s farm in Walla Walla, Wash., and has helped raise crops since she was a child. Her upbringing shaped her ambitions, and both are leading her to France.

Beechinor will be pursuing her two passions of agriculture and science this summer interning for Limagrain, an international agricultural cooperative. She looks forward to studying cutting-edge wheat varieties under Limagrain Europe’s senior wheat and durum breeder Franck Lacoudre, while simultaneously experiencing and learning about French culture. Beechinor will be working with Lacoudre and his team to phenotype different wheat lines at the Limagrain nursery in Verneuil l’Étang, France.

The internship won’t be Beechinor’s first experience with Limagrain. She has attended Limagrain Cereal Seeds (LCS) field days in Walla Walla for years, inspecting varieties and making connections. Her connection with former LCS senior wheat breeder Jean-Bruno Beaufumé is what led her to the international internship.

LCS Field Day Walla Walla, WA

“When I was in high school, I told [Beaufumé] what I was thinking for a possible career, and he, probably jokingly, told me to look him up if I ever needed a job,” laughs Beechinor. She reached out to Beaufumé last year, and he put the wheels in motion. “I have seen Limagrain’s wheat varieties excel in the PNW, and I know they are one of the world leaders in research and breeding. Since I’m specifically interested in wheat breeding, Limagrain seemed natural — I want to learn from the best.”

Beechinor is a rising senior at Washington State University (WSU) double majoring in agricultural biotechnology and field crop management. After graduating, she plans to enroll in a master’s program in plant breeding and eventually work for a global breeding company like Limagrain.

“While working on my family’s farm, I have experienced some of the many problems farmers face daily when trying to grow high-yielding crops,” says Beechinor. Pursuing a career in plant breeding isn’t just about fueling academic interests, she explains. “It also allows me to help farmers and find a way to feed the world.”