Ag Careers Spotlight: Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmer Regional Coordinator

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. 

Amanda is a sixth-generation registered Angus cattle farmer from Russell Springs and was an active FFA member, holding chapter and regional officer titles. Her initial career plans were to become an agriculture teacher. She studied agriculture education at Western Kentucky University and went on to earn her Master’s in gifted education. 

Aside from her agriculture roots, another thing that was important to Amanda was staying close to home. Since there was not an immediate local educator position open after she graduated, Amanda took a temporary job at her local Farm Service Agency (FSA) as a program technician. Not long after, she decided she loved the work and accepted a full-time program technician position in Hart Co. She remained there for four years. 

“I couldn’t imagine having a non-agriculture career,” said Amanda. “The farm loan program enabled me to help farmers and be out on farms. I helped farmers’ dreams come true.” 

An FSA program technician provides support to the Farm Loan Program and assists with loan processing and servicing and communicates program procedures and regulations to farmers.

Fast-forward to January 2016, Amanda was promoted to Beginning Farmer Regional Coordinator, where she currently promotes USDA and FSA programs to beginning farmers in Kentucky and Tennessee. The farm agencies realized that fewer young people were entering farm production and offering incentives for new farmers became a priority. A beginning farmer is defined as anyone who has not operated a farm for 10 years, so age is not necessarily a requirement. Amanda also works with veterans, and she is happy to report that beginning farmer program participation has increased 10 percent in the last year. 

Amanda believes she is good at her job because she is a people person, enjoys working events, and has a passion for spreading the agriculture story.

When asked about her education, she thinks that formal communications skills would have been helpful for her current career. Her degree in agriculture education, however, did provide her with a well-rounded variety of agriculture subjects. Her Master’s in gifted education also helps her with her job duties because she can evaluate and adjust her communication style to different personalities. 

For more information on the Farm Service Agency, read more here.

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By Jennifer Elwell