Current employer/job title: Iowa Pork Producers Association, Producer Education Director
In my position, I work closely with organizations like the National Pork Board, the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, Iowa Farm Bureau, and Iowa State University to develop and distribute educational resources to pig farmers all across Iowa. These resources may include workshops, seminars, webinars, and newsletters about a wide range of topics that are important to Iowa's pig farmers.
I love getting to meet pork producers and learning about their recipe for success. I get to travel across the state each fall and meet the producers who have been nominated for our Master Pork Producer award. I get to sit down at their kitchen tables and learn about how they got their start in the swine business, and many of those stories are similar to how my family got started, which makes it easy to have a connection with those producers.
I was fortunate to get an internship with Iowa Pork the summer of 2014. For the first part of the internship, I had the chance to serve as an intern in Senator Chuck Grassley's office in Washington D.C. where I researched agricultural policy. I spent the remainder of the summer in their Des Moines office preparing for their efforts at the pork tent during the Iowa State Fair. Iowa Pork has small staff of 14 people so I was very lucky they had an opening in the winter of 2015 for the producer education position. Serving as an intern definitely helped me get my foot in the door. I had a good relationship with the staff and they thought I would be a good fit.
I learned the power of networking throughout my years in the agricultural business program. The pork industry is pretty small and producers are really good at sharing their thoughts and ideas. In my first year on the job, I've spent a lot of time networking with pork producers, lenders, risk management brokers, veterinarians, and many other industry professionals to identify subject-matter experts I can call up and learn from when the need arises.
Advice for other ag bus students: Do as much as possible to gain different perspectives. Go on a study abroad trip, and then go on two more. Never stop learning. I try to attend as many seminars and conferences as I can to learn something new or meet new people who I may need to connect with in the future. Finally, I would say that in my position specifically, it helped that I had good relationships with professors on campus. I typically communicate with them once or twice every week. It helps that I got to know them while I was in school.