So, does anyone else remember the days when I was consistent? Anyways, now and then the world reaches out to you and you find yourself with something AWESOME. Such was the case when I received an email from Anna asking if I was still accepting Hi, I’m Agriculture posts (you can read the rest of the posts about agriculture careers by clicking this link). Obviously, I was stoked. Then, we both got busy, she sent me an amazing blog post, and I got busier, and then it sat in my email inbox way longer than it should have. Oy. With that said, I’m honored and excited that Anna and Chad wanted to be a part of my series! So here we are with a pigtastic, romantic Hi, I’m Agriculture post!
Hi! We’re Chad & Anna – we like to refer to ourselves as Team Wastell – and we are agriculture. But our story is a little different.
I’m a small-town Kansas girl. Population 1200; wheat fields and milo as far as the eye could see. My high school had a nationally recognized FFA program and the school parking lot filled with farm trucks each morning. But I was a town kid, a drama and music kid, and I never participated in 4-H or joined FFA. I loved the county fair mostly for the snow cones and cute cowboys.
My husband grew up in suburban Omaha. He was raised in the family business selling Crystal Spring hog feeders. From a young age, he visited hog barns, sat in on manufacturing meetings with his parents and celebrated his birthday each summer at World Pork Expo.
I attended a small liberal arts college in Kansas and lived in Eastern Europe for a while. I climbed the corporate ladder in the hospitality industry wearing high heels and a suit, and my marketing skills were further developed through a job as Director of Communications at our megachurch. But I always loved visiting my hometown; staring out at a wheat field and open sky filled my heart with a sense of total calm.
Chad left for Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue the field of computer engineering, but after graduation, he decided to come back to the business and his family in Nebraska. It wasn’t an easy choice; his classmates were transferring into jobs with glamorous, fast-paced consulting firms, and more than a few friends and mentors flat out told him he was crazy to choose the family business.
But it was the right choice. Armed with a desire to rebuild his relationship with his parents and fueled by the passion that drives everything Chad does, he threw himself into the business of feeding pigs to feed the world. He committed himself to extensive training, completing an internship with a production company and traveling to Europe and South America to understand of the needs of an international market. His engineering background provides the right skillset for product development with Crystal Spring Hog Equipment and the complex technical service of the Pro-Sort large pen auto sort system. He knows his products inside and out and is passionate about the benefits they can deliver to a producer.
As Chad and I were falling in love and getting married, I once (or twice…) declared that I would never work for the family business. I want my own thing, we need work/life balance, pigs are smelly, I’m just not gonna do it. Not ever.
But when Chad was offered an expanded Business Development role that would require him being on the road several nights a week to meet with dealers and customers, we remembered all the conversations we’d had, all the If Onlys. If only we could travel together, if only we could spend time together out on the road.
It became clear that I could fill a role at Gro Master as Director of Marketing, handling advertising and developing training materials for dealers and redesigning the website and all the things I love to do. And I could travel with Chad. I should probably learn not to say “never.”
Now, as we travel around the country and solve problems for farmers and producers that use our products, I hear the stories of people and families that work so hard to care well for their animals and provide safe, nutritious food for the world. The barns are still smelly but it’s important to us both that I learn as much as I can about how pigs are raised and the needs of our customers so we can provide the best products and the best solutions them. I have a lot to learn about the hog industry, and being hands-on inside a barn with a producer is the best experience.
I love traveling with my husband. I love rural America and the small towns and big skies. I love agriculture and yes, even the hog industry. I love that I get to help tell the story of feeding pigs to feed the world, and that we get to be part of that story.
Chad and I are so proud to say that Team Wastell is Agriculture.