To those with roots in agriculture generations deep, I’m an outsider.
I grew up in a rural community in northern New York, but did not grow up on a farm. I
began horseback riding lessons in elementary school and joined 4-H to be able to show at the county fair. My curiosity was sparked.
I saw at least two dairy farms daily to get to school or the grocery store. I was always curious about what was going on in the barns and fields. Through 4-H, then FFA in middle school and high school agriculture classes, I was able to learn about the innovation and hard work happening on the dairy farms and other types of farms throughout my community and the country. I learned about all the career opportunities in agriculture and related fields. I was hooked.
I attended Cornell University to study animal science and agricultural science education. I originally had the intention of becoming an ag teacher so I could provide other students with the same opportunities that had been provided to me. I realized the classroom wasn’t the best fit for me, but there were other ways to put my passion for agriculture and education to use.
I spent a few years working as a crop insurance agent for Farm Credit East in northern New York. My customers were mostly dairy producers, and I also served grain, apple and onion growers. I love working for and with producers.
Attending a conference put on by New York Farm Bureau, I was introduced to the Animal Agriculture Alliance. I was looking for an new opportunity so when the Alliance had an opening in their Arlington, Virginia office, I jumped on it.
The role is a perfect fit for my passion and strengths. The mission of the Alliance is to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. As the director of industry relations I write industry facing communications, help get our farm security tools in the hands of producers, build awareness of the organization and work to grow our membership. Working at the at the Alliance has given me the opportunity to visit numerous different types of farms across the country- broiler, turkey, laying hen and swine to name a few. Going on farm tours and talking with farmers is one of my favorite parts of the job.
While I didn’t grow up in agriculture, it’s safe to say I’m now an insider.
I am thrilled at the opportunity to participate in the VALOR program to learn more about Virginia ag, expand my network and build skills to be better prepared to serve my community and the Virginia agriculture community.
I currently live in Falls Church with my husband, Greg, and our newly adopted, energetic (mostly) Black and Tan Coonhound, Jack.