Employment Through a Pandemic: Agricultural Careers for Gen Zers amid COVID-19

While all aspects of the agricultural industry have been impacted, none have experienced this more than those currently enrolled or recently graduated from college, our Gen Z members. Where some have been able to begin their careers through virtual experiences, many are still searching for their first job amid historic unemployment rates and a severe economic downturn in the agricultural industry. The reality we are faced with is many normal operating procedures before the pandemic are no longer relevant, and new ways of conducting business and engaging with our peers are still being defined.

Technology will play a vital role when interacting with co-workers, clients, customers, and key stakeholders. The time to prepare for a job in the wake of a pandemic is now. Using the expertise of our panelists, we will discuss ways the next generation of agricultural leaders can become career ready today and innovate the industry tomorrow.

Join us Wednesday, July 22 at 6 PM CST for the Panel!


We are excited to co-host this panel with Agriculture Future of America (AFA). Building leaders in food and agriculture and providing young adults with professional development opportunities, such as this Panel, are what AGR and AFA are dedicated to. 

The Panel will be moderated by:

Charlene Finck is an accomplished agricultural leader and is the President of Farm Journal. In that role, she is responsible for all franchises including magazines, websites, mobile messaging and other digital offerings, events, nationally broadcast television and radio programs as well as data and human resources functions of the company. As a part of her award-winning career as a business-to-business journalist, Finck served a decade as the 9th Editor of Farm Journal magazine before moving into the company’s executive team. She founded the Farm Journal Test Plots program, which independently tests production practices, equipment and technology on U.S. farms. Under her leadership, the company launched the Farm Journal Legacy Project, an advocacy effort helping farm families transfer wealth and leadership to the next generation. Today, she devotes her stewardship knowledge and advocacy experience to Farm Journal’s Trust In Food™ platform. Her contributions to agriculture and media have been recognized as the American Agricultural Editors’ Association “Writer of the Year”, Farm Journal winning two Grand Neal Awards under her leadership, the prestigious Citation of Merit from the University of Missouri Alumni Association and being honored as a corporate visionary by the FOLIO Top Women in Media.

Panel members include:

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former Army Intelligence Officer, Aimpoint Research President & CEO Brett Sciotto brings a practical, results-oriented approach to the civilian business world. His training in and emphasis on mission-critical information gathering and targeted research methodology make him unique in his approach to problem-solving in a corporate environment. Sciotto’s disciplined, vetted approach to research is coupled with his military precision in detailed analysis and final presentation to his clients. With nearly two decades of research expertise, Brett has had tremendous success advising corporate leaders, government officials and state and national organizations at all levels. ​

Lisa Safarian holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Ms. Safarian is responsible for the North American commercial performance of Crop Science, a division of Bayer. This consists of sales, marketing, market development and product supply for row crops, specialty crops and horticulture, including seeds, traits and crop protection in the United States and Canada. Before assuming this key leadership role when Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018, Ms. Safarian served as Vice President, North America, for Monsanto and held a variety of other positions in her more than 30 years with that company. Known for her track record driving business results, Ms. Safarian is also a champion for diversity and inclusion. She has been named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women and is involved in the G100 Next Generation Leadership Program. In addition, Ms. Safarian is highly engaged in advancing business and agriculture, serving on the advisory board of Saint Louis University’s Boeing Institute of International Business.

Ruth Kimmelshue serves on the Cargill executive team and leads the company’s integrated supply chain, research and development, and sustainability practices. She also oversees Cargill’s communications, brand and corporate responsibility functions. During her 20 years at Cargill, Ruth has served in numerous leadership roles across the company’s varied businesses, including protein and salt, turkey and cooked meats, and agriculture supply chain. She began her career at Continental Grain, holding roles in the United States and Europe, spanning merchandising and trading, facilities and general management, economic analysis, and marketing and sales. Continental Grain’s merchandising business was acquired by Cargill in 1999. Ruth holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a master's degree in agricultural economics from Stanford University.

Mark Stewart serves as the president and CEO of Agriculture Future of America (AFA). He is responsible for leading the organization’s external relationships and strategic planning processes for short and long-term growth. He joined AFA in June 2011 as director of development and communications. Mark was formerly the director of development and communications for the Don Bosco Centers, Kansas City, Missouri, where he supervised all development, fundraising and communications operations for the centers. He previously served as the vice president of Hartsook Companies, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, and held development roles for both Avila University and Northwest Missouri State University. Mark is a graduate of Northwest State University where he received both his B.S. and M.B.A. degrees. He also earned his doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri. Mark serves on the Board of Directors for the American Royal Association, Together We Grow agricultural diversity consortium and chairs the Leadership Council of his local church.

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