A career she never saw coming.

posted on Monday, October 8, 2018

“I’ll never forget the day my friend Amy (Carpenter) called and said, ‘Let’s do this,’” said Megan. Just eighteen months ago, Megan was a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Jeff, live in Allerton and have two children—Isaac, six and Marnee, four. She had also worked as an “as needed” environmental specialist at the county hospital in Corydon. Amy was ready for something new, and so was Megan.

They applied on the same day, both soon receiving a call from HR recruiter Adrian Flores to come in for an interview. “We were scheduled on the same day in back-to-back time slots,” said Megan. “The joke from the start was asking Adrian if we could all meet together and attempt to reenact the job interview scene from the movie Step Brothers.”

With formal jobs offers arriving the following week, they were assigned to the same farm—Last Chance Sow Farm managed by Doug Bates. “I know I went in thinking it would be a job just to get by, not a career,” said Megan. “But I loved it immediately.”

Megan said she loved the atmosphere at the farm. She got to work with Amy, but also became friends with the rest of the team. “Doug always made sure we were having fun,” she said.

In January, Megan was promoted to a day one lead position. Around the same time, Amy, who serves with the 132nd Fighter Wing of the US Air Force, got the news she was deploying in May to the Middle East. She would return to Last Chance after her tour overseas.

With both taking on new challenges, Doug talked to Megan about the Production Leadership Program, a training and development program for employees who aspire to become a department head or manager. He began making plans for Megan’s training, giving her new challenges and helping her set goals.

Just a few months in the PLP program, Smyrna was breaking ground three miles down the road, which meant it was time to determine who would lead the new farm.

Megan remembers the conversation with Doug like it was yesterday. “He said I should apply for the farrowing department head position, if only to get the interview experience,” said Megan. “I remember going home and writing seven pages of notes for a job I never had any intention of getting.”

Doug thought otherwise. “When people like Megan show their passion, people tend to follow,” said Doug. “From the beginning she’s been a good communicator and great leader, all while absorbing the day-to-day of the farrowing department. I always tell people that anyone can do it if they want to and have the drive, and she has tremendous drive. She doesn’t know how to fail.”

On Megan’s big day, she interviewed with Dan Dean, Don Hunt, Adam Swalla and Dana Spree. “I was nervous, it was crazy, and I don’t remember ever using my notes,” laughed Megan.

Megan said Don came to visit Last Chance a few weeks later to deliver the news in person—Megan got the job! “I was out in the barn at the time, counting weans. I remember being speechless, and him convincing me that the offer was meant for me.”

“Megan doesn’t give herself enough credit,” said Don. “She is a natural leader and has the “it factor” when she is working with people—executing plans and achieving the results on a daily basis. She has a knack to push people to be the best they can be without over doing it.”

As for Megan, she’s excited and nervous.

“I just love saving babies,” she said. “It’s what we are here to do, and there is no better feeling. We’re ready to get our gilts in and start setting up the farrowing rooms with lamps, mats, sow cards and all of our supplies.” And Megan and her farrowing department don’t have much longer to wait—first litters are due October 14.

She said she tries not to get overwhelmed with the fact that there’s 12 farrowing rooms with 102 stalls in each. Or, that her farm will wean 210,000 pigs a year, enough to fill 88 finishing barns.

They have bigger stalls to accommodate bigger litters, and the need to have all eyes and attention on every detail to increase survivability of all born alive’s. “Saving pigs and getting healthy weaned pigs out the door are the two things I love about this career,” said Megan. “We’re ready. Let’s do this.”#HomegrownIowa