Interviewer: What is your current position of employment? What are the responsibilities you have in that role?
I am the Assistant Director of Community Wellness at the Dairy Alliance. In this role I wear many different hats but primarily work with universities, media outlets, different community programs, WIC, health professional groups, and fellow dietitians to provide education on dairy nutrition and the role that it plays in providing essential nutrients for growth and development. As a part of my role, I also get to teach about dairy farming practices and help bridge the gap between consumers and agriculture.
Interviewer: What a variety of responsibilities! What was your original career plan? How has that changed over time?
I thought I was going to be a dietitian, then I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I worked as a clinical dietitian for four and a half years and it was a really good learning experience for me to start out my career, but I was ready for a change. I wanted to try something different. I feel really lucky to have found a more unique role as a dietitian, because I love working in agriculture, but also working in community wellness is a big privilege. I definitely took a bit of a turn from wanting to work in clinical, but it was a good foundation and it helped to launch me into the next part of my career.
Interviewer: Was there something that sparked the agriculture interest for you?
I always was interested in agriculture. I grew up close to rural areas, and I grew up riding horses. I was interested in what we would now term sustainable farming and what that means, and I was really curious about how to connect my career to agriculture. When this job opportunity came up, that I was forwarded from one of my previous preceptors, I thought, well, that’s different and unique!
Interviewer: I am so glad you found such a unique position that you enjoy! What is one piece of career advice you wish you would have received from a mentor when you were early on in your career?
I might have received this advice, but not have listened to it as much, and that would be to get involved as much as you can. Get involved with your community organizations and get involved with your local AND groups. There are so many opportunities when you get involved and you build connections at those levels. Whether it is a job or volunteering, building connections is invaluable, especially when you are looking for a more nontraditional role like I am in. Looking outside the box and getting involved with things is how you find those roles.
Interviewer: Absolutely, getting involved and building those connections are both so important. Describe a professional experience that has stretched you and how have you grown from that experience.
I think making a huge career change from working in clinical to working in community was definitely a learning shift for me. Getting more involved with farming and agriculture, there was so much that I learned that I had no grasp of before I entered into this work. That was a huge learning curve for me in a positive way. It was a whirlwind going from having a really good grasp on what I was doing with clinical care and working in ICUs, and then all of a sudden that was not my job anymore. I got to learn and educate myself in a new area and it was a lot of being invested in teaching myself as I navigated my new role working in the dairy community. It taught me not to be afraid if you don’t know much about a topic, go ahead, and try to get yourself involved. A lot of times, we’re just learning as we go! And in hindsight this transition is now a strength because when I am educating on dairy and dairy farming, I have a good idea of where those knowledge gaps might be since I encountered them too.