Jammie Wutzke: A World of Experience
"I could see that every job I've taken has literally been a step toward what I'm doing now," says Wutzke, whose long path has brought her back to Oregon, just a few miles from where her brother experiments with new crops on the same fields their grandfather used to farm.
Wutzke grew up near Corvallis, Oregon, on Kiger Island, a bar of rich bottom ground with the Willamette River running on either side. The Wutzke family farm was typically planted to tall fescue for the state’s grass seed market. It was also home to a small flock of Suffolk, Dorset and Southdown sheep.
Wutzke worked her way through school. She plowed, sprayed, raked, flail mowed and harvested fields. She drove trucks full of grass seed and fertilizer, chopped weeds, and serviced machinery. Her summer jobs on local farms were as diverse as the crops of the fertile Willamette Valley. Her college interests, which ranged from her ag business studies to her position on the livestock judging team, were broad, too. The sheer range of choices was daunting.
"I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up," she says.
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Wutzke returned to the U.S. and finished her studies. Then, she signed on with a large crop services and input dealership chain in southern Idaho. The job put her elbow-deep in the growing field of precision farming. She took thousands of soil grid samples. She learned the intricacies of the industry and developed a passion for precision farming.
After two years in Idaho, Wutzke returned home. Back in northwest Oregon, she took a job at a crop protection and fertilizer retailer. She spent most of her career in the role, with the exception of a two-year period in which she sold precision-farming equipment. Eventually, though, she decided to look for something new. She searched for a position in which she could both stay true to her roots and embrace new challenges.
In 2014, Wutzke joined Syngenta in an unbeatable opportunity—a chance to stay close to family and serve the remarkably diverse agricultural market in Washington and Oregon as an AgriEdge specialist. AgriEdge Excelsior® is a whole-farm management program that offers an exclusive record-keeping software, Land.db®.
"The awesome thing about the job is that it has truly broadened my territory and broadened my scope," Wutzke says. "There are so many ways people farm, so many different challenges. With potatoes and other row crops, there's a huge need for Land.db because of the frequent audits. It's nice to be able to help people with what can be such a difficult task.”
“On the digital ag side of things, we're on the frontier of bringing new tools and technology. That is the exciting thing: new things you can share. That's what keeps this job fresh.”
She adds that the value of her role with AgriEdge Excelsior goes beyond record keeping. "On the digital ag side of things, we're on the frontier of bringing new tools and technology. That is the exciting thing: new things you can share. That's what keeps this job fresh."
To support the growers across her territory, Wutzke has put countless miles on her pickup over the past four years, winding through 200 commercial crops produced in the Northwest. Every day, she draws on her farm experience and high-tech training, serving in part as a business adviser and in part as an on-call program support.
"It would be a hard job if I didn't have experience with farmers and how they go about their business," Wutzke admits. "Having that background makes it easier because I understand their language and what they want to record. I really enjoy teaching people. Being a face on the farm, I can help them at their pace."
A New Generation
Now that she’s back in Oregon, she has the opportunity to return to the farm occasionally to lend a hand to her brother, whose farming operation includes crops ranging from apples and cherries to pears, blueberries, hazelnuts, hemp and aromatic clary sage. Her close proximity to Oregon State University also allows her to participate in college and career fairs, where she encourages students to explore careers in agriculture.
"There are so many people looking for hard-working employees," Wutzke tells them. "You could have any pick of what you want to do, whether it's working on a farm, managing a farm, working on the manufacturer's side or the retailer's side. It's always a good time to get into agriculture, and if you're a hard-working person, there's a job for you."
Wutzke's career is a perfect example.