Stephanie Steele: A Farm Mom, Wife and Ag Professional

This FarmHer built a career and life that merges her passions.
Stephanie Steele
Finding the right career path can be daunting. It’s a choice that will either draw people back to their roots or encourage them to branch out and experience something new. In college at Murray State University in Kentucky, Stephanie Steele, who grew up in a farm community, wanted that new experience, so she started pursuing a degree in biology. But after her junior year, she was drawn back to her love of agriculture.

This @SyngentaUS FarmHer wants to use her passion for the #ag community to inspire the next generation of #womeninag.

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Like many students growing up in agricultural communities, Steele was heavily involved in her local 4-H and FFA chapters. From age 9, Steele participated in 4-H activities ranging from demonstrations to animal showing. It’s clearly a family tradition; Steele followed the footsteps of her brothers, mother and granddad by serving as a chapter and regional officer while she was a member of FFA. And in fact, it was relationships built through participating in these organizations that helped introduce her to Ag Connections.

Rekindled Relationships

As a young member of 4-H, Steele met Joe Ben Bogle while he interned at the local extension office. Years later, the two connected again at a Murray State job fair. Steele had recently switched her majors and Bogle was working at Ag Connections. While the meeting didn’t result in an immediate position at the company, it did open the door for her.

Upon graduation and completing her MBA, Steele got a position at Murray Bank, Ag Connections’ lending bank. “At the time, I didn’t know Rick Murdock, one of the founders of Ag Connections. But another teller told him, ‘That girl is too smart to be working here at the bank. You need to hire her.’ I got a call that night from Rick, asking me to stop by to talk to them,” says Steele. “I went the next day, and they offered me a job.”

"I’ve always felt at home in agriculture, and I’m pretty good with numbers. So it was fitting to major in ag business with a minor in finance."

Stephanie Steele

Ag Connections had an eye on Steele since she spoke with Bogle back in college. For more than seven years, Steele has been a dependable and trusted support specialist. She recently also took on the role of finance administrator.

A FarmHer Shares her Family Tradition

Last year Steele’s story was featured on an episode of FarmHer, which aims to shine light on the influence of women in ag. It was a humbling experience for Steele, a huge advocate for women in ag, to share her story on national TV and be a part of the FarmHer movement.

“I can remember growing up, the chemical and seed salesmen were always men. I did not know a single woman who did those things,” she says. “I think it’s good for the U.S. and other countries to see women in another light—that we can do the same things as men and be just as knowledgeable about crops and agriculture.”

After the episode aired, Steele was amazed to witness the true impact of the show, as people she grew up with reached out thanking her for sharing her story.

This sense of community and support among farm families and neighbors is one of Steele’s favorite things about agriculture. Steele, a mother of two, is excited for her young daughters to grow up in the environment and watch them learn the value of hard work.

While Steele works at Ag Connections full time, her husband, Wes, runs the family tobacco and row-crop farm. The farm brings the family together and offers a place of excitement and adventure for their oldest daughter, Sutton. From riding in the combine with her dad to shucking sweet corn with her mom, Sutton soaks it all up and is always eager to be involved.

“I have always been rooted in ag. It’s been a part of my family and our story,” says Steele. “I’m still living it and hope to pass it on. I would love for one of my daughters—or both—to come back to the farm in the future.”