Passionate about Agriculture
CALS Graduate Turns Passion into Successful Career
A passion for making farmers lives easier has led Rachael Ashley to a career doing exactly that. Ashley, a 2014 graduate of the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, is a regional account specialist for Land O’Lakes crop division, WinField Solutions.
WinField is a member-owned cooperative that offers crop input products and services to help growers, dealers and co-op partners gain a competitive edge. Based in Minnesota, Ashley covers the west and Midwest regions, providing support to customers for their day-to-day operational needs.
“We help retail sellers and growers with everything from seed ordering to new employee training,” Ashley said. “WinField is their go-to source for everything from seed and chemicals to crop guidance and field mapping.”
When Ashley first graduated from UI with bachelor’s degrees in ag economics and animal and veterinary science, she took a position with FLM+, an agricultural marketing and communications agency. She found herself working mostly with other businesses and not directly with farmers and growers out in the field, which led to her decision to move to WinField.
“I love that I get to work directly with people who work in agriculture every day,” she said. “To be able to help those people whose blood, sweat and tears go into their trade, and their product is feeding and clothing the world is really rewarding.”
While attending UI, Ashley participated in several internships and student groups that helped prepare her for her career. The hands-on agricultural economics courses she took helped set her apart from others in the workforce.
“My agricultural sales class was probably the most impactful class that I took because I got to practice real-life skills and not do just a paper assignment,” she said. “I talk to a lot of friends who went to bigger ag programs at Midwestern schools, and it seems like their experiences aren’t necessarily as applied as what the University of Idaho offers.”
When it came time for Ashley to decide where to go for her higher education, UI was the easy choice.
“UI is the premier university in Idaho and they have a phenomenal agricultural program,” she said. “The faculty in the ag econ department are some of the most decorated in the ag industry. They have strong connections to the industry which leads to jobs upon graduation.”
Ashley first got involved in agriculture when she became an FFA member at her high school in Kuna. The people and culture of agriculture drew her in and now she can’t imagine a career in any other field.
“I love serving farmers and making their lives easier,” she said. “There is so much risk involved in their operations. The agriculture industry has lofty needs to meet in the next few years to produce the food and fiber needed to take care of the 9 billion people estimated to be on earth by 2050. I enjoy being at Land O’Lakes where they are so focused on the growers and farmers and helping them be successful and ensuring a bring future for agriculture.”