I live in southern Iowa as well,and have been doing cakes/ pastries for about 3 years now. I took the very first wilton course, but hated it! It wasnt the kind of cakes I wanted to do. So I sent out and email to every bakery I could find, asking about an internship. One said yes and I interned for about a year (and boy did I learn a ton). I have been running a business out of my home for about a year now and am in the process of wholesaling and opening a bakery.
My best advice to you would be intern. Its amazing how expensive it is to get all the stuff....Im 3 years in and dont have everything I need! Im also going to throw out there that pricing is the hardest thing. People here expect so much for so little, building a client base who value your product/talent is very hard, but im finally begining to do it!
Good luck and best wishes!