Inquisitive, Thorough and Energetic
"Jessica is the most unbelievably enthusiastic and passionate person you will ever meet,” said Sham Brown, DVM, and Director of Multiplication. “Within one second of meeting her you’ll know how extremely focused and compassionate she is about pig care and people care.”
Jessica Rosener, a Production Well-Being (PWB) specialist for Iowa Select Farms; however, found her way to this position through a somewhat unconventional path. “For 20 years I was a small animal veterinarian and worked mostly with companion animals,” she said. “But I missed working with farmers and large animals, specifically swine. I researched opportunities on the computer, and was drawn to Iowa Select Farms after reading how much they were committed to giving back. I knew it would be a wonderful place to work.”
Jessica also knew she needed to be reacquainted with swine production, so she started as an animal caretaker, spending five months at Sow 29 in Thayer, Iowa. “Some people thought it was odd that a veterinarian wanted to work in an entry-level position, but I thought it was important to start with the basics and see animal care through the lens of every person on the farm,” explained Jessica. “I learned a so much from Bert and the team at Sow 29, and I felt so grateful for the opportunity to work alongside them.”
Today, Jessica spends her days traveling to farms throughout southern Iowa conducting safety, biosecurity and animal well-being assessments, driving animal care and training efforts alongside farm managers, supervisors and entire teams of caretakers.
“Jessica has developed this incredible ‘bedside manner’ after years of working with pet owners on the companion animal side,” said Sham. “She cares deeply for both the pigs and the caretakers and demonstrates that through not only the time she spends training, but the way in which she trains—through her passion and enthusiasm she gives people confidence.”
Because farm assessments are unannounced, oftentimes it can throw off the day for the manager and teams, and it can even be a little unnerving. But her fellow team members throughout the southern Iowa territory all insist the she brings a tremendous amount of value to the farms every time she visits.
They also appreciate how willing she is to do special training sessions on specific practices, such as how to enter in supplies, move animals, or assess body condition of a sow or gilt.
“I know from conversations with my managers that they find the training days with Jessica very helpful and worth the time spent together,” said Tysen Abell, gilt development supervisor. “They appreciate being able to talk through their plans with her, and she always makes herself available to help with new employee training, which the managers appreciate. She’s a true asset to all of us.”
Don Hunt, senior sow supervisor for the southern Iowa region, agrees. “Jessica brings a lot of energy and passion to her job, she is detailed in her approach to assessing the farms. She is inquisitive, thorough and asks many questions during the audit process. She makes sure the farm understands the protocols and has the proper documentation.”
Jessica echoes the importance of having a good connection with her teams. “What I enjoy most about my job is building relationships with managers and their teams,” said Jessica. “The sense of pride that our employees take in their farms is really special, and I get to be a part of that on a daily basis. I feel very lucky to spend my days on-farm getting to know our employees and seeing all of the great production results that they’re accomplishing as a team.”
When Jessica and her peers visit farms, they all follow a set of guidelines and checklists to ensure a fair assessment of things such as recordkeeping, overall facility upkeep, caretaker training, animal care and health and adherence to biosecurity, and according to her fellow assessors, Jessica is as “by the book” as it gets.
“You can bet a hundred dollar bill that if she is on a farm and has a question about animal welfare or biosecurity, she will be giving us phone call or e-mail in order to make sure that she is being consistent with her approach,” said Jeff DeWeese, fellow PWB specialist.
Some might even say Jessica goes to the extreme to get things right. “Jessica’s incredible attention to detail combined with a passion for teaching people and improving the farms make her an asset to our team,” said Dr. Cassandra Jass, Director of Production Well-Being. “And anyone that knows her knows that she never has a bad day. Jessica is always enthusiastic, full of passion and ready to face whatever the day might bring her.”
“I think the existence of the PWB Department reiterates the Iowa Select’s commitment to doing the right thing,” said Jessica. “We’re not just assessing a few farms, we’re assessing every farm in our system, often multiple times a year, and that takes a lot of time and a lot of people all working together.”
Jessica still has an appreciation for her experience in companion animal care, but she says she feels right at home in her role today. “I have yet to meet a caretaker or a manager who doesn’t want to do things the right way,” she said. “The commitment to improvement found throughout the entire company makes me proud that I made the decision to jump over to the swine side, especially with Iowa Select Farms.”