Jenna grew up on her family’s farm northwest of Dell Rapids, South Dakota. They primarily raise cattle and crops and have horses. Over the years, they have also raised sheep and hogs.
As a South Dakota State University student majoring in Animal Science, she met Dr. Barry Kerkaert, vice president of Pipestone Veterinary Services, during an SDSU Swine Club meeting. He talked about opportunities and open positions at Pipestone, and Jenna thought it might be a good fit for her.
Jenna started as a data entry technician, doing data entry primarily for Meta Farms and the Feed Allocation System. As the business grew, so did the team, which lead to more staff doing data entry and data analysis.
Jenna is now a team leader with Pipestone Grow Finish working with producers on nutrition, production management, market logistics and data analysis. She also is a nutrition assistant and has administrative assistant duties. Jenna’s main responsibilities include market logistics, pig flow and nutrition.
The Pipestone Grow Finish organization provides producers with a team of experts that can assist and give advice at every stage of pig growth. The team focuses on advising clients on efficient and profitable production, and relies on a strong team for data analysis, record keeping and other services.
Producers can work with the Pipestone team in a variety of ways, from nutrition consulting, record keeping, to providing expert field supervisors and accounting services for their barns. Jenna and her team are responsible for managing all logistics and record keeping of pigs from farrowing through finishing. They manage all nutrition and health records and coordinate with field supervisors to schedule the delivery of weaned pigs from nurseries and to schedule the marketing of finished pigs.
In her role as team leader, she is learning something new each day and always looking for ways to better serve hog producers.
“Overall, the team leader is a sounding board to improve our business to better support shareholders, barn owners, and those who are taking care of the pigs,” she said.
Keeping records is important, but the ability to create valuable reports from the data sets the Pipestone System apart. Generating reports on profitability, nutrition and feed consumption, health performance and other trends gives farmers the information they need to better manage their barns and pigs in the future.
“I never thought that starting as a data entry technician would lead me to what I am doing today,” said Jenna. “I enjoy the challenge and look forward to the opportunities that will arise with this career.”
She is also excited about new responsibilities she has taken on to help nutritionist Casey Neill in working with product suppliers. She enjoys the nutrition side of the business and working with producers to help improve their feed performance.
The growth of the Pipestone organization allows employees to take on new opportunities and challenges.
“If you want to do something specific or see an opportunity for the future, just name it,” said Jenna.
She recognizes the challenges in working in the swine industry when fewer and fewer consumers are directly connected to agriculture.
“Educating the public is part of this position, too,” she said. “I get the chance to share the Pipestone story as well as sharing the good news about the swine industry.”
Jenna and her fiancé, Justin Jacobs, live near Rushmore, Minnesota. He farms, sells seed, raises cattle and owns a hog barn. In her spare time, Jenna loves riding her horse, spending time with family, being outdoors, camping, and grilling.