Meet Amy Rademaker!
Farm Safety Specialist | Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety
B.S. Ag Business, Farm and Financial Management | University of Illinois
AFA Leaders Conference Delegate 1999
AFA Student Advisory Team 2000
AFA Alliance Member 2001-2008
Tell me a little bit about where you are now and the path you took.
I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in ag business, farm and financial management. I interned with Archer Daniels Midland my final summer in school – prior to ADM's involvement with AFA – and was able to help pave the way for a relationship to be built.
After graduation, I was offered a job with ADM, but quickly realized I wanted to be closer to family. After 9/11, I returned to the family farm and found a job as a rural health and farm safety coordinator at the Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety in October of 2001.
I started with a lot of office coordinator responsibilities. Fourteen years later, as the farm safety specialist, I reach over 3,800 people annually with direct farm safety educational programs. The Center consists of myself and often, an intern. I am part of the larger Carle Foundation Hospital public relations department.
My husband, Ryan, and I have been married for nearly 9 years and have two young children, Hunter and Emily. We live on five acres in the area where my husband grew up.
How has this journey been similar to what you envisioned? How has it been different?
Upon graduation, I envisioned working for a company such as ADM in some type of grain merchandising or financial capacity. My leadership opportunities; however, have been in line with what I always envisioned for myself. I have held various leadership roles on many committees with 4-H, FFA, class treasurer and in the College of ACES at the University of Illinois. I was someone people expected to help lead and see at public events.
Today I do a lot of work with the media, sit on the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee, co-chair the Public Relations Committee of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health, serve as a board member of the Illinois Rural Health Association and take an active role in church.
I always planned on moving up the corporate ladder in agribusiness. Making a good living and traveling sounded great, but in the end, I learned how important family was to me. I realized how much I liked teaching people; though I knew I didn’t want to do it every day. You never know where you might discover a job that’s a perfect fit. The right job doesn’t have to match your degree, so long as it matches your passion and strengths. You never know what you might find that was never part of your plan, and that’s OK.
What role did Agriculture Future of America play in your career preparation and path?
Through AFA, I learned a lot about event planning while on the Student Advisory Team. I use these skills while planning large safety events. Each and every day, I build my network – and through AFA, I learned the importance of networking and how to do it well. The AFA Leaders Conference Track sessions taught me a lot about time management, being part of strategic planning and listening skills, which I shared with my former sorority. AFA taught me the skills I use when presenting to help find financial support for our programs at Carle. Most notably, though, it taught me how to be confident in my work. It has had an impact on how I present myself and my ability to be comfortable on a stage, presenting to large audiences.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in a career similar to yours?
There are very few positions like the one I have, that are fully funded by a hospital with the express purpose of working on farm safety. If you are interested in pursuing farm safety as a full time career, you should make this your field of study in school and consider working for Extension at a university level and ultimately look for a position at a regional farm safety center.
There are ways to incorporate farm safety into other careers. If you are an ag engineering or mechanic student and farm safety is an interest, think about modifications that can be done to make machinery safer. If you are interested in farm safety and rural health, but not as a full time job, look at how you might include it into your work. Maybe it’s incorporating a safety message into a company newsletter, or providing safety tips at an elevator with grain tickets. You could certainly consider becoming a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® Coordinator. I just finished coordinating my 53rd Progressive Ag Safety Day — the most anyone has ever done – and I still look forward to each and every one of them.
My best advice? Regardless of your degree or your career path, love what you do. That is the best way to determine your success.