Ag Career Profiles
Three central Kentucky producers are building successful business models while offering fresh, local meats for dinner menus. Each one loved to farm but realized without marketing the bounty, the joy of farming would merely be an expensive hobby. They’ve succeeded in finding a variety of markets for beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, duck and eggs.
The position of Promotions Coordinator for the Kentucky Poultry Federation fell into Cassinda Sparrow Bechanan’s lap, she said. Her two children were getting older, so she decided it was time to reenter the workforce ten years ago. It was a great fit for this former 4-Her and University of Kentucky College of Agriculture graduate who focused her studies on communications.
As my role in agriculture has changed over the years, I am able to meet more new people in our industry. Once in a while, you meet someone that gives you a clear picture of how they earned the job they have. One of those people is Ben Conner, Special Projects Coordinator at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Growing up with an ill uncle, Hanna Earich always new she wanted to go into the medical field, but she didn’t want to leave her agricultural roots. To incorporate agriculture into her education, she decided to study agricultural biotechnology as a pathway to get into Pharmacy school.
Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky Beka Vaile was sold on becoming a zoo keeper ever since her first visit.
It is springtime in the Bluegrass and throughout the Commonwealth there is anticipation for this weekend’s Kentucky Derby. That is what brought Erin O’Keefe, Customer Relations Manager for Millenium Farms, to Kentucky.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and for Emily Goins capturing some of cattle showman’s best moments is a privilege for her.
While growing up in the suburbs of Louisville, the closest Matt Hilton ever got to agriculture was at the grocery store shopping for food. That wouldn’t last for long though as Matt was hired 11 years ago to be a video coordinator for Kentucky Farm Bureau.
Agriculture has run in Elizabeth Riley's blood since she was born. Raised on a sheep and goat farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky by her mother who is a 4-H agent, she knew her path always involved agriculture.
Adam has been KyCorn’s program director for 11 years, where he manages the association’s membership, market development, and farmer leadership programs. He also organizes and mobilizes KyCorn’s grassroots base, which means he encourages farmer members to get involved in policy issues and public affairs.
Cara is a Feed Sales and Technical Rep for Cargill Animal Nutrition. Their brands of horse feed include Southern States, Legends and ProElite Feeds.
Even though his official job title is futures broker, Boyd Brooks, a Cynthiana native, says he is truly a risk management specialist who helps farmers turn a profit in an industry of financial uncertainty.
Taylor and Zac Jones brought in their first harvest with just 278 tomato plants. Their grandfather had given them a couple rows in his garden and the pair had been experimenting with the idea of starting their own farm.
Carrie Knott, a Daviess county native, thought after high school she would get an associate’s degree and enter the workforce. A bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D later, she is working as an extension agronomist for the University of Kentucky.
For most folks, a career in government comes by chance rather than pursuit, and that is exactly how Kimberly McDaniel became an agricultural statistician with the National Agricultural Statistics Service 28 years ago. She works out of the Eastern Mountain Regional Field Office in Louisville, Ky.
Nestled in Hodgenville, Kentucky sits Fresh Start Farms, owned and operated by Ryan Bivens, a first-generation farmer.
If you would have told Dr. Tammy Potter ten years ago, that she would be the state apiarist (fancy word for beekeeper), she probably would have laughed at you. Potter attended college to become an English professor and was one for many years until her grandfather called her back to the farm that she was determined to get away from, to help him take care of his bees.
Dr. Carl Bradley is a plant pathologist for the University of Kentucky. In his role, he studies diseases in field crops (corn, soybeans, and wheat), researches ways to manage those diseases, and then passes the information on to farmers across the commonwealth.
Will and Maggie Bowling are the future of Kentucky Agriculture. They are also the present. The two biology graduates are using their educations, hands-on experience, and participation in the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program (KALP) to bring locally-grown and produced food to Clay and surrounding counties.
The time spent on the track solidified Carrie’s conviction that she was meant to live in Kentucky, so immediately upon graduating from high school, she accepted a groom position at Lane’s End Oak Tree division. She jumped in head first, learning how to groom and the ropes of how a first-class Thoroughbred farm operated.
Tyler Phipps has been a crop consultant with Crop Production Services (CPS) in Shelbyville for five years. Coming from eastern Kentucky, he did not realize the tremendous opportunities available in agriculture, but he is thankful CPS gave him a chance.
A quick search on AgCareers.com provided a snapshot of the trends in available jobs and may provide insight for those searching for potential opportunities.
Lindie Huffman’s mantra is “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” and building relationships is just one of this Jane-of-all-trade’s exceptional talents.
Joe Hildesheim has been with Kroger for 39 years and managing the meat and seafood merchandising of nearly 100 retail stores for the past six years. He got his start at 18 as a bagger, and has worked his way up through dedication, education, company management programs, and great people skills.
Carrie Pendleton likes structure and rules, which makes her job with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Grain Regulation Branch a perfect fit.
TJ Conrad did not grow up on a farm, but his home in McLean County was surrounded by agriculture. Providing labor on local farms was always a good way to make some pocket money, and he developed a fascination with farm equipment.
Amanda Robertson has a job title that only three other people in the nation can claim. What is more surprising is the fact that she studied to become a teacher.
My good friend Brent Burchett serves as a bridge between the business of agriculture and government. While becoming a “bureaucrat” was not really what he was after, I attest that he has a passion for serving Kentucky’s farmers.
It was obvious that Becky Kinder and the Kentucky Soybean Board were a great fit considering she interned with them three summers in a row. Becky became their full-time education director in 2004.
Being outside and working with people appealed to Sean Godbold, an Oneida, Ky. native, and when looking at potential careers, he figured that the title of forester would provide that for him. While he spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s his biology and conservation knowledge that makes him a respected and awarded tree inspector.
Learn more about agriculture careers at https://www.agexplorer.com/.