Who are you?
Jennifer Johnson, Senior Marketing Specialist with CHS Inc., the largest farmer-owned cooperative in North America.
How long have you worked with cooperatives?
I have worked with cooperatives for nearly 9 years.
Describe your role.
In my role, I work with our agronomy wholesale and retail teams. I work with crop protection on new product launches, from the naming of the product to how the box/packaging is going to look on the warehouse shelf and the marketing materials around it for the sales teams. I also support our crop nutrients teams with communications and events.
What do you enjoy about working with cooperatives?
The people within cooperatives are some of the best. They are the ones that care about you both inside and outside of work. The way that cooperatives value the local communities and the producers that own us is something that can’t be found everywhere. Ensuring that we are building and sustaining our local communities is something I really enjoy about working with cooperatives.
When did you join CCA? Why?
I joined CCA after my dear friend, Anne Moore, shared the experiences and career development the association provided her. I joined in the spring of 2022 and attended my first institute that year, which I highly suggest! It’s an amazing opportunity to get together with others within the cooperative industry that have a ton of knowledge and insight across a multitude of different types of cooperative industries.
Did anything surprise you about CCA upon joining?
I wasn’t expecting the vast number of different cooperative industries and how comparative they are in what we are doing and how we can help each other. From agriculture to electrical, it’s a place where we can all come together to learn, grow and have someone that understands the type of work we are doing and the impact that it is making.
How has CCA supported you in your career?
I have been able to develop a group of people that understands what it is like to be part of small groups to large groups, and they are all so willing to share their ideas. From photography to events and small shops, the tips that I’ve taken away from these groups have supported me to develop my skills and provide me better knowledge to grow my career.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love photography, hiking and biking. I am learning to play golf, which somedays I’m much better at than others! Hand me a camera and a hiking trail though and I am truly in my element!
Do you have a “bucket list”? What are some of the things on that list?
I have a long list of national parks on my bucket list. Glacier, Banff and Zion are on the short list. The photos I see are breathtaking and this world has so much to offer, I want to be sure to see as much as possible. I have also been very interested in starting an Etsy shop for printable designs, so we’ll see if that is checked off the list someday.
Give us something about yourself that is surprising or that most people don’t know.
I had a very severe heat stroke June 26th of the summer going into my junior year in high school. Admitted with a body temp of 108.6 when I reached the hospital and spent the next 9 days in the ICU and 5 additional in the general hospital. I nearly didn’t make it through 24 hours. I shouldn’t be where I am today. After getting released from the hospital, I relearned nearly everything. I couldn’t add simple things like 2+2. My parents farm and I had no idea what anything was or how things worked (something that was my whole world up until then) and I was a high school junior. I was a 4.0 student now looking at what school would now look like and changes that needed to be made. I started to have school at night with my uncle to relearn nearly everything – I did early elementary math problems and spelling words. With the help of my family and friends, I was able to overcome these obstacles, get through school, take many tutoring classes and build my career to what it is today. Looking back, my life should have looked much different, and it has reminded me to cherish each day, where I’ve come and the amazing things I have been able to do. The long-lasting affect is that I have I have a very slim long-term memory. I remember very little of my childhood or anything pre-heat stroke. And today, my memory can be a large struggle some days, but I’m here. It’s a reminder that life can get really, really hard, but you are strong and can do so much more than you give yourself credit for. Tomorrow will be better. And if it’s not, you say it again, because it might be and at some point, tomorrow will be better.
What advice would you give to professional communicators just starting their careers?
I recently heard a quote from an executive leader within my organization and I wish I would have heard it at the beginning of my career. “My job is what I do, it’s not who I am.” You will find that some people love to live to work but if you work to live, that is okay. Wanting to develop a good work-life balance is okay. If people tell you, you need to continue the grind to make it further, find someone else that aligns with your goals. It took me far too long to hear that quote and it stopped me in my tracks. I am someone that now starts many of my introductions with this quote because what I do for my career isn’t who I am and I am striving to make sure that I am not seen as just a marketing professional.
Email Jennifer here.