Women in Agribusiness: Krista Lottinville

Krista Lottinville grew up in Iroqouis County on a corn and soybean farm. As a child, she preferred Barbie dolls to tractors - but things have changed over the years and now Krista's professional life includes both farming and seed sales as an Account Manager for Burrus Seeds

"In addition to my family, one of my early influences was my high school FFA Advisor," said Krista. "He made agriculture fun and relatable. I was involved in crop judging, fundraising, and FFA camp and conventions at both the State and National level."

Her FFA experience prepared her well, and Krista graduated from high school to attend the University of Illinois as an Ag Business major with a minor in Crop and Soil Management. She was also involved in an agricultural sorority, Sigma Alpha, which helped make a big university seem smaller because of its tight knit community of supportive women. 

Following college, Krista went to work as a crop adjuster for Diversified Services, which helped her gain insight into the crop insurance business, and she went on to become a licensed agent during her five years there. 

Along the way, Krista developed a passion for ag policy during her work with Women Changing the Face of Agriculture (WFCA). The WFCA conference is designed for young women in high school and college who are interested in a career in agriculture. It showcases various careers so that young women can see what opportunities exist in the ag industry. Krista's leadership roles in the organization have kept her involved in the planning and implementation of the WCFA annual conference each year. This year's conference will be hosted at the University of Illinois campus on March 10th, 2017. Several women with a wide range of occupations from Agrible will present at the conference on the topic of careers in agricultural technology. 

With all of this experience under her belt at a young age, it's easy to see why Krista was selected to be a member of the Illinois Ag Leadership Program, which aims to develop knowledgeable and effective leaders for the agricultural industry to solve the current problems of global and local food security and sustainability. Krista was one of 30 individuals chosen in a highly competitive selection process. As part of the program. Krista was able to spend time in Washington, D.C., as well as two weeks in Japan and Panama to see how farming operations in those countries differ from the United States. 

"I love traveling abroad, and learning about new cultures and trends in agriculture. I think it's important to learn how business is done in other countries since we live in a global marketplace," said Krista. 

Krista's current position as an Account Manager with Burrus Seeds allows her to utilize her family background in farming along with the other skills she gained along the way. She is helping blaze the trail by being one of only 2 female account managers: "Often I'm the only woman in the room," said Krista. "I have to prove myself more, but it doesn't bother me." This can-do attitude is a good example of why Krista has been successful in her career thus far. 

Krista enjoys working for Burrus because it has been a family-owned business for 85 years. "One of the big advantages Burrus has is their multi-brand strategy of sourcing genetics from multiple suppliers, and that the Burrus family are farmers just like their customers," she said. 

Burrus also prides themselves on their customer service - all of the owners have published cell phone numbers so they are available anytime. According to Krista, "They are very caring about their customers and are equally concerned for their employees." An example of this is when a recent heavy rain prevented planting - Burrus took an unprecedented approach, allowing growers to return their unused treated soybean seed since they were unable to plant in some areas. "This shows the level of service they offer to their growers," said Krista. 

As an active farmer with her family, Burrus allows her the flexibility to do this while covering a five county area. Krista says "The company is understanding and supportive because they want me to do farm work as well."

This is an impressive list of accomplishments for a young career woman in the ag profession. Krista also enjoys being outdoors and doing the physical work of farming: "Driving the tractor every day and doing jobs like tile work give you a great sense of accomplishment," she said. She also enjoys quilting, sewing, and craft projects, along with snow skiing, water skiing, boating, and canoeing. 

Seed sales can be a bit lonely on the road, so Krista can often be seen in her truck accompanied by Cooper, her rescue dog and beloved companion. It's clear that a solid work ethic and good family values growing up on a farm have made Krista who she is today, and there's no doubt she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to in the future.