Meet American AgCredit's Summer Jeffus, one of North Bay Business Journal's 2019 Forty Under 40

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Summer Jeffus, 39, regional marketing manager, American AgCredit in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.

Responsibilities with your company: As the regional marketing manager, I support the agricultural community, including farm bureaus and ag-related associations from the Oregon boarder to Marin County and territories in the Central Valley. Fifteen counties in all. In addition, I oversee the American AgCredit’s association wide AgYouth Financing Program (covering over six states).

How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?: I have been instilled with a work ethic to service the agricultural community. Lead by example and the next generation of Agriculture with follow.

Years with company: 2.5

Length of time in current position: 2.5 years

Employees: 556

Greatest professional accomplishment: I am one of three daughters and spent my childhood running loaders and forklifts, and began helping my father run the business at a young age. My dad wanted a boy but I don’t think he was disappointed at all in the end. My father instilled in me a strong work ethic, care for the community around me, and the farming way of life. I knew agriculture was a tough business and remember the struggles my dad dealt with to keep the operation afloat. It would show on his face at the dinner table.

When I was asked to come work for American AgCredit, I learned that the farm credit system, of which American AgCredit is a part, saved my father’s farm and business, which still operates today. His bank had turned him down, but the Farm Credit System came to his rescue in the late 80s. That was a big factor in my decision to leave the wine industry and join the team at American AgCredit.

We serve AG, that’s all we do. We understand the cyclical nature of farming and ranching and we look out for our customers through the many ups and downs. That’s what farm credit did for my father. The farm credit helped my father save the farm and gave him the tools and resources he needed to succeed long term, much in the same way American AgCredit stands by its customers today. I previously spent 15 years in the wine industry, becoming a certified sommelier and worked with many amazing wine brands. I wasn’t sure about making a move when the opportunity presented itself. I thought, “Why would I ever step away from the wine industry?”

It was when I learned in a conversation with my mother about the farm credit’s role in saving my father’s farm. It gave me chills and I thought, this is what I’m supposed to do. Working for American AgCredit, I am paying it forward to other farming families. There is no greater professional accomplishment than that.

Greatest professional challenge: I wish I had more time to visit all of the different Agricultural communities in the many counties I support.

Best advice received: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. - Marc Anthony Thank you dad, I am doing just that.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: Overseeing and updating the entire American AgCredit Financing AgYouth Program that makes a difference for the next generation of agriculture professionals, has given me the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride.

I revamped and updated the entire program to give more students the opportunity to purchase project animals: including increasing interest free loan amounts to match the cost of today’s student’s projects and created workshops on budgeting, record keeping and tips on how to obtain a buyer to increase their project selling price.

I was once one of those students. My first market hog and FFA Advisor helped shaped who I have become in the agricultural industry today. Working with these AG teachers and advisors again from across the country, and giving their students the opportunity to have an animal project is so fulfilling.

Next professional goal: Support all of American AgCredit’s California territories.

Education: Bachelor of Science in agricultural business, sales and marketing, minor in viticulture, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; The Court of Master Sommeliers, Napa, 2011; Certified Sommelier Society of Wine Educators, Napa, 2012; Certified Specialist of Wine American FFA Degree

Hometown: Los Osos, California

Community/nonprofit activities: Past Russian River Valley Board of Directors- Chair of the Millennial Marketing council; Sonoma County Vintners founding Barrel Auction Committee Member; Sonoma County Farm Bureau- elected Board member; Sonoma County Fair Foundation- elected board member; PBS Travel and Wine Auction Guest Auctioneer since 2012.

Mentor/admired businessperson: My father, the farm and businessman.

Typical day at the office: Marketing meeting with our different commodity groups, followed by a farm bureau board meeting and ending my day at an event that is raising funds for the Farm-worker Foundation in Napa Valley.

Hobbies: Fishing, Fishing and Fishing time with my two boys Camping Hiking Gardening Canning - I am known of my spicy pickles.

What you wanted to be when you grew up?: I wanted to take over my father’s sod farm business in Los Osos, CA. But then I fell in the love with wine business and moved to Sonoma County in 2002.

First job: Working on my father’s sod farm and mowing acres of lawns.

Social media you most use: Facebook

Favorite movie: “The Note Book”

Favorite after-work drink: A glass of bubbles

Last vacation: Two Day Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Steelhead Fishing Derby: all in the name of work, while raising awareness and funds to keep the Smith and Chetco rivers fish population healthily. Don’t tell anyone, but if felt like a vacation.

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?: My work ethic and that I don’t know a stranger.

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