Keri Richardson has come a long way from showing pigs for 4H in Sullivan, Illinois, and many of the values that she learned while growing up on a farm have served her well in her career as the Illinois Sales Manager for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Crop Risk Services Division.
Early mornings and long hot days are still part of a typical day for Richardson, who deals with a host of clients throughout the state in the ultra-competitive crop insurance industry.
"Every day is different which is one of the things I really enjoy about my job," she said.
With a degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Ag Education, Richardson didn't initially plan on working in the crop insurance industry. However, it was during a college internship with ASI Risk Management that she realized the field was a good fit.
"ADM is a great company to work for and they provide so many services to the farmer. Growing up in central Illinois, I was always familiar with the name and their mission as supermarket to the world," she said.
When she began her career 18 years ago, Richardson was used to being a minority in the male dominated world of agriculture. Nowadays, she says there are many more women in ag careers, including management, and that she sees a higher level of respect for women in the field.
"I love that I'm able to meet many people with varied backgrounds in this business, so it's always fun and interesting. If crop insurance wasn't around back in the drought of 2012, many farmers would have gone out of business. It provides a safety net for farmers so they can stay in business despite the difficult price and yield declines," she related.
Richardson's advice for women getting into the ag field is to "work in internships with a variety of jobs, so you become aware of all the different positions that exist. Also, to be open to exploring new things and opportunities that come your way."
When Keri is not out working her large territory for ADM, she, her husband, and two children (ages 8 and 12) enjoy spending time together boating, attending University of Illinois football games, local festivals, and shows at the Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, IL. Although no longer showing pigs, Richardson is glad for her roots in agriculture and what it has brought to her experience working for ADM's Crop Risk Services division.