Q&A with Jackie LeFever

Woman's photo.Name: Jackie LeFever

Title: Human Resource Manager, CHS

What is your background and how did you find your way into the ag industry?

I started my career in transportation and spent 25 years with an organization holding multiple roles in customer service, operations, system implementation, and human resources. I heard about an opening for an HR Manager at CHS and realized it was time for a change! Through the interview process I got more and more intrigued to learn about agriculture and the impact it has on literally everyone! The diversity of services at CHS, the focus on employee growth and satisfaction, and the values of the organization left me wanting to learn more. I couldn’t wait to visit my first grain elevator!

Why is diversity important to you and your organization?

Our organization, and business in general, is better when it is diverse. Personally, I learn so much from working and being with people who have a different background and different experiences than I do. Building relationships with others allows me to learn other cultures and ways of doing things in a safe environment by asking questions and participating in activities I would not have had previous access or ability to participate in.

Diversity is important to CHS for a number of reasons, the ability to find enough talent has been impacted significantly by the pandemic with more and more people retiring early or choosing to not go back into the workplace. We open so many additional possibilities by being diverse in our recruiting and attraction of talent. By offering different work structures we can cast a net wider to find the right people to fill critical roles outside of rural America where so many of our brick-and-mortar offices are. CHS values input, creativity, and new ways of doing things that create efficiency. By being diverse and inclusive we have greater opportunities to accomplish our goals!

What current diversity initiatives do you have planned or ongoing?

I sit on the Harvest Pride Leadership team at CHS. Harvest Pride is an employee resource group that focuses on the LGBTQA+ community. We are building an environment where anyone within the community and any ally feels like they can bring their whole self to work. This is being done through visibility and education.

I am a member of the CHS Inclusion and Diversity Council and am the Culture workstream sponsor for our team.

I am an HR Manager for our Country Operations division supporting multiple business units across rural Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois

In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing happening in the industry currently?

To me the most exciting thing about our industry is the technology that is being developed and used to aid in the science behind the crops we are planting and growing. Technology is allowing us to know more in a more efficient and healthier manner!

What is your vision for the future of agriculture?

I envision technology playing a huge part in the future of agriculture.  There are not enough people to do all the work required. By using technology and machinery to accomplish the repetitive tasks that need to be completed we can continue to be productive in remote areas.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your organization or the agricultural industry?

CHS is a growing organization with a commitment to focus on our customers and employees. Our people truly care about creating connections and building an organization that will last forever!

About Together We Grow

Together We Grow is an agribusiness consortium with members that include major agricultural commodities companies, educational institutions, government agencies, and others committed to improving and expanding diversity in agribusiness. The consortium sponsors research and provides a platform to share best practices for building future workforce capacity; it will have its permanent home at the Spur Hydro building. For more information, visit twg.csusystem.edu.

About Spur: CSU System at the National Western Center

Coming in 2022: CSU System will open Spur, where innovative ideas and unforgettable experiences come to life at the National Western Center. Spur’s three buildings at the center of the landmark project in north Denver will ignite and fuel new ideas around water, food, and health and their impact on our lives and our world. Spur is where learning is open and accessible to all. Where researchers tackle the world’s most pressing problems around water, food, and health. Where art and culture challenge and surround you. Where rural and urban, local and global intersect. Learn more at csuspur.org.