The “First Day Farm Female” series includes articles posted on the first day of the month featuring fellow Illinois women in agriculture.
When Jenny Jackson isn’t busy helping others, developing youth, or promoting agriculture, you can find her behind a camera.
Jenny grew up on her family’s farm, the “Girl Farm” as friends called it, where her parents raised crops, cattle, hogs, and four daughters. Jenny and her sisters purchased and raised calves and pigs to show through 4-H and sell after the showing season, experiencing first-hand farm responsibility. Jenny credits her many years in 4-H and FFA for the strong skillset she has built as a leader and communicator.
Recognizing how instrumental these youth organizations are in arming young people with the tools needed to succeed, Jenny is always looking for ways to give back and help develop the next leaders in agriculture. She is passionate about youth outreach and considers that a highlight of her job as Director of Communications for Illinois Pork Producers Association, a membership organization serving over 1,600 pig farmers in Illinois. In that role Jenny develops programs to both educate and recruit the next generation of consumers and producers and organizes communications centered on producer engagement and consumer interaction. And Jenny proves it’s possible to have a successful career you love and turn a pastime into a side business. Photography started as a hobby for her and quickly turned into more, upon demand.
Jenny was part of the inaugural group who coordinated the first Morgan County Fair Gala, which will be held for the fourth consecutive year in 2020. Through the gala, Jenny helps raise funds specifically for youth opportunities at her county fair including educational scholarships, maintenance to buildings on the fairgrounds and an exciting activity for children during the fair.
Jenny’s interest in helping others extends beyond her community. Along with another farmer in her area, Jenny organized a hay relief trip to Kansas after the region suffered devastating wildfires. Within two weeks, their small neighborhood idea was brought to life through their county Farm Bureau Young Leaders group. Farmers from across the state donated hay and funds to assist their trip. A convoy delivered of 18 semi-trucks and 2 pick-up trucks of hay and a $13,000 check. Jenny recognizes it as the most humbling experience she has taken part in.
With a love for both agriculture and art, Jenny was conflicted as to which path to pursue so she opted for an Associate degree in Graphic Design and a Bachelor degree in Agriculture Science. In her role with Illinois Pork, she gets to utilize her creative talents and share her passion for agriculture. For others who may be debating agriculture and another path Jenny encourages, “to those unsure of the future, choose agriculture,” noting there are countless opportunities within agriculture to find a career that allows you to utilize your other interests and strengths.
From her days in agriculture youth organizations to becoming an agriculture leader, Jenny wants other young women interested in agriculture to know “there’s always a place for women in the agriculture industry” in many types of roles both on and off the farm.