International Women's Day spotlight - Jody Steffel

08 Mar, 2024

International Women's Day spotlight - Jody Steffel

International Women's Day spotlight - Jody Steffel

This International Women's Day, we're shining a spotlight on Jody Steffel, GIS & Statistical Analyst at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC). I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jody and she shared insights and tips for a successful career in technology & agriculture. Jody's dedication to serving others, working hard and continuously learning has helped her thrive in the ever-evolving field of agriculture. Here’s what I learned:

Q: Can you tell us about your career in agriculture?

Jody: "I began my career at SMBSC in 1989 which will bring my time here to 35 years in June of this year. How I have gotten to where I am today is by always looking for opportunities to learn about new technology that can help our shareholders and the Agricultural Department. Being an “out of the box thinker” has helped me to push projects further than we have before and even explore new endeavors. I have continued to learn about technology and GIS with individual training classes, attending conferences to network and learn from others, and have spoken to many vendors about their products to see if it is a fit for us. I have been fortunate to build my job around what I enjoy doing. Working with data, GIS, satellite imagery and visiting people have all kept my job interesting.”

Q: What pivotal moments or decisions contributed most to your professional growth in the agricultural industry?

Jody: "When I began working with the Agricultural Department after my second year of working for SMBSC, my supervisor had ArcView placed onto my computer and I began to dabble in learning this program. I found I enjoyed working with GIS and it was the beginning of building my career towards this area. I also learned about Microsoft Access and how to do light programming. The combination of GIS and Microsoft Access opened up new ways in which we could look at the data that is collected from our shareholders."

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With the seasonal nature of agriculture, Jody says one of the main challenges is when the crop doesn’t yield as well as other years. Jody says that her team’s goal after a difficult crop year is to look towards next year and plan for a successful crop which helps to lift spirits. She also draws her motivation from her dad.

Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Jody: "My dad has always inspired me. He began working at the local grain elevator for the management team and moved up to being a manager of several different farmer-owned cooperative elevators. His hard work and determination through the hard times and the successes have always been in the back of my mind as I continue to pursue my career. The love for agriculture continues to run in the family as my daughter works as a Crop Advisor and my son works in Agronomy Sales/Precision Ag."

Looking ahead, Jody envisions a future where more women, like her daughter, are empowered to pursue careers in agriculture too. Jody emphasizes continuous learning and being proactive as keys to success.

Q: What advice would you give to the younger generation of women in agriculture?

Jody: "Continue to push yourself in your career. Look for new ways to learn, share your ideas, and explore new tools and technologies. Innovation thrives on initiative and collaboration and sometimes just hearing about others' success or ways of working can spark an idea that you never thought of or a new way to do things."

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Q: What do you hope to see for the future of women in agriculture?

Jody: "I hope to see more women continue to have careers in agriculture. This is an area that continues to grow with opportunities in farming, production, processing, engineering, business, technology, supplies, livestock and many more."

Q: What motivates you in your work?

Jody: "Knowing that I can help someone through my job motivates me. Our goal as an Agricultural Department at SMBSC is to provide shareholders information that they can use out in the field for better production, which is a motivator to me."

Q: Last but not least, what is your favorite crop?

Jody: “Sugar beets of course ;)”

This International Women's Day we’re celebrating key contributors and leaders like Jody, paving the way for future generations of women in agriculture. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in agriculture or want to connect, reach out to me on LinkedIn anytime!

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Lacey Baker

Product Support Manager

Lacey Baker, Iowa native, is the Product Support Manager with Leaf Agriculture. She started her career in the health industry serving as a certified medical assistant but her love for agriculture drew her over to the agriculture industry. She has worked in IT and digital customer support with DuPont Pioneer, MapShots, Inc., and Granular where she managed support teams and implemented ticket resolution processes. Lacey is passionate about building relationships and is driven for excellence, which makes her a fantastic conduit between our customers' success and product development.

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