Career Spotlight-Jennifer Hodges

August 31, 2016 | 9:08 am

Jennifer Hodges isn’t a teacher in a traditional classroom, but she’s committed to educating the community on using best practices in agriculture.  As the Marketing Representative and Customer Service Manager for the Anderson Inc. Plant Nutrient Group, Jennifer promotes agricultural products made by her company to American farmers. Jennifer believes that being environmentally responsible is everyone’s job. She feels the corporate farmer and your neighbor next door should know how to properly use fertilizer.
Jennifer Hodges Lytch, marketing representative/customer service management for The Andersons. Lytch holds some of the fertilizer their company produces. October 6, 2015 in Maitland, Florida, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Jennifer Hodges Lytch, marketing representative/customer service management for The Andersons. October 6, 2015 in Maitland, Florida, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

While Anderson Inc. Plant Nutrient Group has several divisions including a grain division, plant nutrient group, and retail division, Jennifer’s focus is the plant nutrient group. This division develops agricultural chemicals to help plants grow.  Jennifer’s main role is to promote who the Andersons are and what they do as well as their products and services. She promotes their brand to the agriculture industry.
But Jennifer isn’t just in sales. She is more like a fertilizer guru. She knows that fertilizer helps to feed the world. According to Jennifer, the world population will increase by two billion people by 2050. That is an extremely large increase of food requirements. Plant nutrients will be a vital part of being able to meet the needs of feeding the population.  Farmers rely on fertilizers to keep soil productive. Soil combined with fertilizer produces more crops than soil alone.  In this way, the fertilizer industry helps nourish soils that in turn, nourish people. Jennifer says, “We feed the plants that feed you.”
In Jennifer’s role as Marketing Representative and Customer Service Manager, she works diligently to promote the “4Rs”, a nutrient stewardship program.  The 4Rs provides guidelines to follow when applying fertilizer. They are utilizing the right source, at the right rate, at the right time and right place when applying fertilizer.
In Jennifer’s day to day life as a marketing “rep”, she spends quite a bit of time on the road.  She promotes Anderson’s products at trade shows, meetings and conventions. Although she is not assigned to a particular region of the country, she focuses primarily on the southeast area of the United States. She meets with potential clients (farmers) and goes over an in depth explanation of the 4Rs. She sends out customer satisfaction surveys. She wants to make sure she is serving the customers, who are large farmers.
Jennifer had a head start in the agriculture industry. That’s because her family has been involved in the plant nutrient business since before her childhood. Then, in middle school Jennifer had a science teacher that brought learning to life. Her teacher facilitated participation in numerous hands on science projects.  In high school, Jennifer joined the FFA (Future Farmers of America). She participated in programs revolving around horticulture. She participated in local fairs and learned about agriculture.
Her participation in FFA gave her a foundation in agriculture as well as great leadership skills.  Her family gave her the passion and initial interest. Members of FFA and friends in the industry (friends of her parents who owned a nursery, for example) helped to mentor Jennifer.  She feels she received so much that she wants to mentor others and give back too. She participates in AG In The Classroom, an organization which promotes careers in agriculture to young children. She participated in AG Literacy Day where she was invited to read a book about agriculture to second graders.
While Jennifer lovers her job, it is not without its challenges. Jennifer says that pressure to limit the use of fertilizers is increasing. Legislative, regulatory and non-government organization activities, including legal action pertaining to nutrients in the environment, are taking place on national, regional, state and local levels. Another challenge is time management.  Prioritizing your time is essential for a successful career.  Time management helps keep you on track, keep things in context and helps you focus on quality work.
While Jennifer was required to have either a degree in marketing or business for her role at Anderson Inc., she also cites a passion for agriculture as a requirement for her work. Jennifer believes agriculture is a great industry to work in and would like to promote working in the plant nutrient business. She says she is helping to feed the plants that feeds us. She encourages young people interested in this field to join the FFA chapter early. “It’s never too early to reach out to have a mentor in that particular field.”
Jennifer says that agriculture is her passion. She gets to say, “I feed the world.” She also loves the people in her job and in her industry. She feels like she is working with a family. She is passionate about her career because this is an important industry for the world.
*According to our interviewee, we are expecting a population of 9-10 billion people by 2050.