By Michele F. Mihaljevich
INDIANPOLIS – For the first time in 10 years, the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance have a new CEO.
Courtney Kingery started with the organizations at the beginning of October. She replaced Jane Ade Stevens, who had been with the groups for 30 years. Stevens will be an advisor for the organizations and also do consulting work.
Kingery’s father is a sixth generation farmer in Monticello in White County, Ind. “Some kids got tricycles as gifts,” she said. “I got a red pedal tractor with a wagon. I learned how to drive in a tractor. We were definitely a red tractor family. It’s nice being back in Indiana where I can wear my T-shirt that says ‘I’m a red tractor girl’.”
Before joining the corn and soybean organizations, Kingery worked for Tate & Lyle in the Chicago area as global director of Health and Wellness Innovation. She was previously a grain trader and marketing director for oilseeds and food ingredients for ADM. Kingery has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Hanover College and a Master of Business Administration from Kutztown University.
“This job (with Indiana corn and soybeans) marries up my personal background, family and professional life,” she explained. “It combines my two passions – family and family history and my work career. It gets me back home working with a great group of growers and farmers. When I’ve met with some farmers and board members, even in a year like this, they’re incredibly optimistic and passionate.”
Her short-term ‘to-do’ list for her new role includes continuing the activities the groups have been doing such as educational programs, trade missions with livestock partners and working with Purdue University on research.
“We’re also working on a 5-10 year strategic plan,” Kingery said. “We’re looking at production and sustainability, education and consumer outreach, livestock, technology, global demand and biofuels. We’re trying to predict what we think the future may look like. Then we’ll work to come up with a three-year time frame to build a foundation to be ready to hit that 10-year mark.”
The corn and soybean organizations craft their message around three prongs – promotion of market growth and creation, education and research, she said. The groups offer grants to schools to help offset expenses for students to visit the Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. For information on the tours and how to apply for the grants, visit www.glassbarn.org/visit-the-glass-barn/school-field-trips/.
The organizations also keep in contact with state and federal legislators about policy issues and how their decisions might impact agriculture, Kingery said. Indiana corn and soybean officials visit countries such as Mexico and also invite buyers to the state. “We want to make sure Indiana growers have access to international markets,” she said. “We’re working to minimize trade barriers so we have free and open markets we can go into.”
For Stevens, relinquishing her role as CEO will allow her to better control her schedule. “I hope to work with agricultural organizations at the state and national level,” she said. “I’m also going to visit my granddaughter in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
During her time with the groups, Stevens worked with them to fund the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center at Purdue and the Glass Barn facility. Before joining the organizations, she was president of Stevens & Associates, a public relations and association management firm. She also previously worked for Elanco, Indiana Farm Bureau and the undersecretary for the USDA’s Natural Resources and Environment agency.
“I’ll miss working with farmers on a fairly regular basis,” she said. “I’m a doer. I like a strategic plan, putting it to paper, putting it to life. I like to see it accomplished. I thank the farmers of Indiana for having faith in me. I hope I helped make agriculture better for them.”
Courtney Kingery is the new CEO of Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance.