Mikey Shields Celebrates 25 Years With Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Mikey Shields for celebrating 25 years with Iowa Select Farms!
After growing up in the rural community of Bedford and working on a 500-head sow farm throughout high school and college, it was always evident to Mikey that he’d pursue a career in agriculture.
“I studied business management at Northwest Missouri State thinking that I’d end up at a cooperative or something like that,” chuckled Mikey. “I never imagined I’d go back to a sow farm, yet here we are.”
Mikey started his career with Iowa Select Farms in 1993 as a farrowing animal caretaker at Sow 2 near Webster City.
“Prior to applying for a job we had heard chatter that Iowa Select Farms was going to building some farms near Taylor County,” he explained. “I applied hoping that it wouldn’t be long before I moved back towards home.”
Mikey wasn’t wrong. After six months of working at Sow 2, he was transferred to Sow 15 near Diagonal. This time, he was an animal caretaker in the breeding department.
“When I started at Sow 15 it was just getting started and things were a little… weird,” he recalled. “The farm manager was in charge of everything, even construction. It was hectic, but luckily everyone on our crew had just enough experience to get by. Once we finally had a chance to figure out what we were going to do and who was going to do it, it was good.”
During his time at Sow 15, Mikey was promoted to breeding department head and then farrowing department head. It wasn’t long before he assumed a manager position—after all, he had nearly 10 years of experience working on a pig farm prior to Iowa Select Farms.
“The first farm I managed was Sow 17. I was there for several years and then took over at Sow 28,” he said. “I went to Sow 21 for seven months but then back to 28, where I spent the next eight years.”
As a manager, Mikey’s daily responsibilities revolve around making sure the animals and his employees always have everything they need to succeed. After everyone is taken care of, Mikey spends his day in the department that is either busier or short-staffed. Whether he’s power washing, breeding or processing, Mikey tries to help out as much as he can.
“The variety of my job is what makes it so enjoyable,” he said. “Some days I’m in farrowing, some days breeding and other times I’m at a meeting.”
Another thing that he really enjoys about his job is the flexibility and autonomy.
“The company lets us run our farms the way we want to,” explained Mikey, who has a reputation for being a “chill, laid back and fun” manager. “There’s a lot of individuality at each farm which I know myself and the other managers appreciate.”
Many of the managers he’s referencing are some of Mikey’s greatest friends.
“A lot of the managers in this area have been with Iowa Select Farms for 15, 20 and even 25 years right alongside me, so we’re really good friends,” he said as a smile crept across his face. “We’ve had some really good times, but most of those probably aren’t appropriate for Facebook.”
When he’s not a work, Mikey enjoys spending time with his wife, Shelly, and two children, Tessa and John.
“Believe it or not, we actually have free time and hobbies now that the kids are out of the house,” he joked. “So far that means sitting around a picnic table and drinking beer, but we also enjoying going to sporting events, golfing and have made trips to St. Louis and Nashville.”
Prior to being empty nesters, Mikey and Shelly really enjoyed their time spent together as a family at company outings to football, baseball and basketball games.
“The one thing that has never changed in 25 years is how the company cares for their employees,” he said. “They’ve always done a great job of taking care of us and our families and for that, I’m really grateful.”
Congratulations on 25 years, Mikey! We appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do for Iowa Select Farms.