Member Spotlight

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November 2017

Terry, times three

Stephenson communicates for ag cooperatives
There’s never a dull moment when you juggle communications duties for three different companies. Just ask Terry Stevenson.

The Canadian CCA member handles communications duties for AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative, farmer-owned grain marketing and farm-input supply companies affiliated with GROWMARK, Inc. He’s also the point person for Great Lakes Grain, a grain merchandising company that AGRIS co-owns.

“My salary is shared by all of them,” he said. “It allows the cooperatives to have someone like myself dedicated to communications that they wouldn’t likely be able to afford on their own.”

What led to your career in cooperative communications?
I originally came to the cooperative system through the retail side. Not too long after I started, a new general manager was hired and he set up a new management system that allowed a position like mine (communications manager) to be created along with crop protection, seed and precision farming managers.

What are your job responsibilities?
I basically cover everything you traditionally associate with communications for our cooperatives – from news releases, marketing, advertising, managing our three websites and one mobile site, signage, video and photography and employee uniforms. I also administer our company emails and manage our Share Point site.

What do you like most about your job?
I’m very fortunate to work with very talented and passionate people every day. The cooperative system seems to attract these types of people, and it makes my role in communications a pleasure. One other thing I really enjoy about my job is that it forces me to keep up to date with the latest technology. I’m very fortunate to have the full support of our cooperatives’ management team in participating in CCA and continuing to attend Institutes and learning sessions to help me do my job better for our cooperative owners.

How does your participation in CCA help you in your job?
CCA has been a wealth of knowledge for me by participating in our Institutes and the many online training sessions they hold throughout the year. Through personal networking with CCA members, I’ve learned a lot from other communicators’ experiences. I belong to other associations; however, CCA has proven to be of the most value to me. That’s not a knock against the others, it’s just that CCA focuses not only on communications, but we all have common ground working for cooperatives that many others don’t understand in the traditional business world.

CO-OP CAPSULE

Name: AGRIS Co-operative, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative, Great Lakes Grain

Headquarters: Ontario, Canada

Description: AGRIS and Wanstead are grain marketing and farm-input supply cooperatives serving more than 1,500 farmer-owners in 17 locations in southwestern Ontario. They are leaders in precision farming technology, seed, agronomy and petroleum services. Both co-ops are member-owners of GROWMARK, Inc. and market products and services under the FS banner. AGRIS is a partner of Great Lakes Grain, a grain merchandising company.

What piece of advice can you offer to new cooperative communicators?
Take advantage of the Institutes and the many training courses/sessions CCA offers. Network, get out and meet other members. They are a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they can be of tremendous help in your career. They understand your challenges and are more than willing to help out a fellow CCA member; you just have to ask!

What do you enjoy in your leisure time?
I enjoy playing guitar, although I never seem to be able to find enough time to practice and play as often as I would like. I own five guitars in total. Two six strings, two 12 strings and one electric Stratocaster. A great time for me is getting together with my buddies and jamming, playing a wide range of songs from the Eagles to Tom Petty, and everything in between, for a few hours.

Tell me something about yourself that most CCA members don’t know.
I have a passion for following American politics. The communicator in me marvels at how the many, many different difficult political issues that come up every day are handled by each respective party spokesperson and how their message is crafted and disseminated to the public. I think my dream job would be as the White House Press Secretary!

On what reality/game show would you be more likely to end up as a contestant?
“Jeopardy!” would be my choice! Like most people, if the categories on any given night are in my area I don’t do too bad; however, when they aren’t in those areas, I bomb out pretty badly.