Shine On~Women In Agriculture~Jennie Hodgen
Shine On, Shine On was the subject of a blog post that I did a while back.
Here is the link to my first Shine On, Shine On post! I have decided that there are a lot of people that help me “Shine” and I am going to feature them on my Shine On, Shine On series.
This year I decided to start a new spin on my Shine On series and add a little more of agricultural spin. I am excited to be bringing you these interviews. My goal is to share these fine ladies stories with you all. Help me welcome my this Shine On Lady,Jennie.
From historic homesteaders to contemporary cattle ranchers, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture heritage. In fact, the 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly 1 million women are working America’s lands. That is nearly a third of our nation’s farmers. Women are also scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians, and conservationists. Women are in the boardrooms and the corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. Women are property owners and managers. Women are policymakers and standard bearers. Women are involved in every aspect of agriculture.
Shine On~Women In Agriculture featuring: Jennie Hodgen
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.
I am one of those people who enjoys reading peer reviewed journal articles for fun, takes the picture of my kids doing acrobatics on the horses and then tells them to sit back down, and realize how lucky I have been in my life with the opportunities people have given me. I was a typical ranch kid who decided I wanted to be a doctor, but majored in food science/animal science because they had the same course requirements and I could use my FFA & 4-H scholarships. After inorganic chemistry 2, I decided to save some lives (I’m selfishly concerned about the ones who didn’t make this choice) and have a more enjoyable and tastier time. When they finally made me leave school (my dream of being a professional college student was dashed), I did some HACCP & pet food ingredient consulting, taught high school home ec, and did food sanitation trainings. My PhD advisor hooked me up with a dream job in an animal health company as their meat scientist which has allowed me to move as my husband moved including back to his family’s farm and my daily view of corn fields and cows with our 4 kids.
Tell us about your role and what does your “typical day” looks like.
For the last 10 years, I have helped oversee quality and safety projects on meat from animals given our products, sustainability & animal welfare efforts, consumer messaging, and work with some of the smartest and genuine people. All with the goal to answer packer, processors, retail, foodservice, & consumers’ questions, hopefully give our customers solutions to best keep animals healthy and efficient, & give the company insights on what type products or services we should be looking into.
Travel days and home days are very different (I work from home when not traveling). Home days I do laundry while on conference calls, take pictures of my cows or kids while working on power points or answering questions, trying to get myself invited to various conferences or companies, oversee homework, read books (or in some cases recite books), remind kids America Ninja Warrior Hodgen style can only occur outside or in hotel rooms, & picking up suppers for the guys & MIL out in the fields (spring & fall only).
Travel days depend on how productive my home days were, but my favorite are visiting the sites we have research trials going on.
Who is/was your biggest influencer or mentor? What did you learn from them?
We only get one? I owe so many people thanks. I’ll go with my mom who’s advice has always been correct: watch out for snakes, don’t lie or you lose trust, there will always be someone better than you so as long as you do your best, that’s all anyone can ask, do it right the first time, be helpful, depend on God.
How do you define personal success? How are you working to get there?
“Did I do God’s work today with the right attitude?”
It’s a work in progress, but thankfully HE gave us tools and people in my life who are willing to call me out on it.
How do you think a women’s role(s) in farming/ranching/agriculture has changed over the last decade?
For a lot of women in agriculture there have been positive changes this last decade, but also some negatives come along with this. I know we are supposed to focus on positives but I miss collecting drawings left on the tables after my talks so… I see fewer females bringing their kids to agriculture events and meetings or staying home altogether because they don’t have to worry about the kids behavior during the meeting or they are worried they won’t be taken seriously. Don’t make me be the only one encouraging my kids to play fort under the banquet table or draw awkward pictures of the presenter.
& for the sake of my sanity and competitive nature, quit trying to do it all. It’s okay to excel at what you are good at -supportive wife raising kids, helping when you can on your farm/ranch, agribusiness woman, rancher but for goodness sake don’t have a spotless house at the same time.
Learning from our mistakes is an important part of life. Would you mind helping others and share a mistake that you have made and what it taught you in the process?
So there is a little ice cream company who had a listeria issue with a competitor with a shared adjective in their names. I called the wrong one to ask them to come talk to a group about what they had learned in the process. So many lessons. 1. Don’t agree to set something up until you have time to review who you are talking to and why. 2. Double check always especially when your contacts are both named Jennifer 3. Take the lecture humbly, & listen carefully because they will bring up good points 4. Some mistakes- even accidental ones are very costly and take a lot of time to repair 5. Guilt over the mistake is useless- & in this case weight gaining because I tried to compensate by eating my way to forgiveness with ice cream.
How would you define “women in agriculture?”
Homo sapiens with only X chromosomes involved in some aspect of the activity of providing a food, fiber, etc product.
What in your opinion, is the most important topic in the agriculture world right now?
There are thousands of Ag products being grown & supported by hard working individuals who are trying to do the best they can with the resources available to them.
What is in your daily toolbox? Planner? Phone? Computer? Special item(s)? Why do you carry it with you?
My carryon backpack weighs more than my suitcase frequently so you can assume- correctly- that sometimes I carry everything but the kitchen sink (mainly because I don’t want to bring the dirty dishes). I like to be prepared for anything I suppose: fruit rollup shortage, camera 1 (iPhone) & 2 (go pro) dying, no flash drives or charging cables for 20 people, …
In closing, do you have any advice, quotes for young women, or anyone that is starting their career in agriculture?
It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.
Nothing is all good or all bad. Trying to find perfection will leave you with no options.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Have fun, and watch out for snakes!
Jennie~Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer a few questions. I am lucky that our paths crossed.( I hope they cross again sooner than later.)
Here are a few more reasons that you help me Shine On:
🌟I love your attitude. It shines through all that you do.
🌟 I love your passion about beef and agriculture. I know that you are making a huge impact on our little world. 🙂
🌟I appreciate your efforts in teaching people the “truths” about where their food comes from.
🌟Your a hard worker and it shows.
🌟Your a beautiful person inside and out.
🌟Your go-get-them attitude is a great example for those of us around you.
🌟Strong women stand together when things get rough, hold each other up when they need support, and laugh together when there’s no reason to.
When I think of you, this quote comes to mind:
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” -Amelia Earhart
My message to you, dear friend is to keep Shining On!!
Thank you for just being YOU!~Naomi
You can find Jennie on: