Another Milestone for Employee, Josh, of Southern Iowa

posted on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Congratulations to Josh for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms!


Like many of our employees, Josh’s earliest, and fondest, memories involve pigs. “I grew up raising pigs with my Dad, who also worked at Iowa Select Farms,” he recalled. “Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life that pigs weren’t a part of. For me, that’s a point of pride.”

Knowing that he wanted to follow in his Dad’s footsteps, Josh applied for a job with Iowa Select Farms in 2000 and was hired at “Goins”, a multiplication grower farm near Diagonal. He then moved around a lot, starting with Parker Sow 16, Hastings Boar Stud, Jernquist Sow 15, Nickle N015 and then Bickel #1 and #2—and we’re not done yet. Josh also spent time at Lucas G043, Nursery 118 and even worked in maintenance for the Ponderosa farms before transferring to start a brand-new farm, Last Chance Sow 32. Today, he heads up the farrowing department at Sow 118.

“It might be easier to list the farms I haven’t worked at,” he laughed. “I’ve worked at a lot of farms over the years, but more importantly, forged a lot of great friendships. The memories we made on last much longer than the time spent at work.”

One of Josh’s fondest memories was starting up Last Chance.

“Seeing an entirely new crew come together and accomplish so much in our first year was really something,” he said. “I honestly remember saying I did not want to work there, I thought it would be a disaster, but seeing the farm come online and everyone’s hard work pay off—it was amazing.”

Another fond, and perhaps funnier (if you ask Josh, not his wife Tierra…) memory is from Josh’s wedding day when he left to go chore a nursery. “If that’s not true love, then I don’t know what is,” he joked. “I mean, how many ladies could honestly say they would be OK with their soon to be husband leaving to go to work on their wedding day? Not many, I’m sure.”

As farrowing department head at Sow 118, Josh takes prides in leading his crew as they work to produce safe and nutritious pork. “Every day we wean, wash, load, farrow, process, care for and repeat,” he smiled. “Basically, we are feeling world and loving it.”

Outside of work, Josh stays busy—very, very busy. Aside from being a Dad, he loves riding his Harleys and even designs and builds “impractical and impossible” street-legal rides. Right now he’s working on a three-wheeled picnic table. He also enjoys cooking for his friends and family, announcing county fairs and festivals, DJing, auctioneering and has even tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Like we said, he’s a busy guy.

Looking back on the past 20 years brings up a lot of good memories for Josh, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on everyone that made his career possible. “I owe it to my Dad, John (Billy) Shields Jr for instilling in me a love of livestock and a strong family,” he said. “I also couldn’t have done it without my wife, Tierra, for understanding that pigs are life and Doug Bates for taking the time to make me better. I appreciate him for seeing something in me that I didn’t necessarily see in myself.”

Just as reflecting on the past is important, so too is looking towards the future. For Josh, he hopes it’s full of helping others grow, developing talent and future leaders for the company.

“I plan to pass my experience and lessons onto new employees to help accelerate their careers, further their passion and raise quality pork,” he said. “Being apart of an industry like ours, it’s bigger than any one person. It takes everyone working together and it’s something you can really take pride in knowing you’re a part of. I’m grateful for all the past 20 years has brought and look forward to what the next 20 has in store.”