Ag Careers Profile: Association Programs Director
Adam Andrews loves to play devil’s advocate. I got to experience this first hand while working with him for many years at the Kentucky Corn Growers Association. While this frustrated me at times, his approach makes him a conscientious and effective advocate for Kentucky’s farmers and grain industry.
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.
While growing up in west and middle Tennessee, Adam knew he wanted a career in agriculture. His father was a hobby farmer, and Adam experienced several diverse farm enterprises including raising bottle calves, ranch horses, tobacco, garden produce, and row crops. This upbringing, involvement in FFA, and a rodeo scholarship led him to study agriculture business at the University of Tennessee-Martin.
He thought his education would lead him into a career in agricultural sales, but his experience in graduate school encouraged him to look at policy and public affairs rather than retail. Adam earned an internship working for the commodity and public affairs divisions at Tennessee Farm Bureau, which eventually led to a job as Director of National Affairs and Political Education with the Kentucky Farm Bureau.
“Farm Bureau prepared me by exposing me to the most intense and functional organizational grassroots structure of any organization in Kentucky,” remarked Adam. “[Working for KFB] gives you a lot of clout in policy circles, and it was a good place to start and develop a good reputation in agriculture.”
Adam left Kentucky Farm Bureau to be closer to home, where he worked in sales, but he said he missed working in agriculture. The opportunity opened with the Kentucky Corn Growers Association at the right time, and he took the job.
“Now I have a broader set of duties with a more specific set of topics,” said Adam. “Every day provides a new and exciting task, and there is very little predictability, which works well for my personality.”
Adam said he also enjoys the collaboration with other state corn organizations through the National Corn Growers Association.
“The working relationships are unmatched compared to other organizations. I value being able to go to my peers to build successful programs that will also work in Kentucky for Kentucky farmers.”
When I asked if he would have done anything differently if he knew he was going to end up with this career, he said he would not.
“I didn’t start on this job track until the fifth year of my six-year education. I’m glad I went home and sold something, and I’m glad that I have had forks in the road. I would encourage young people to do as many diverse things as possible before settling in.”
Adam also has some tough love advice for millennials.
“Get more comfortable being subordinate. You will eventually be the boss, but you have to first learn to be the employee. Don’t be afraid to learn from others. I think millennials are too quick to want to be in a leadership position, but I think there are many valuable lessons to be learned before you get there.”
His compliment to the younger working generation is that they do well with work/life balance and making time for themselves. Adam may have taken some of their advice, because I don’t know anyone who enjoys being in a duck blind with a black Lab by his side more than he does.
By Jennifer Elwell