“No matter where you are, always try your hardest to make a difference”
“No matter where you are, always try your hardest to make a difference,” said Adriana Hernandez, manager of not one, but two sow farms for Iowa Select Farms. Recently featured in the National Pork Board’s #realpigfarming campaign, Adriana took the time to share what she loves best about leading her farms and helping people develop and grow their skills.
Adriana obtained her animal science degree from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and then moving to the United States where she pursued a career in swine production. She joined Iowa Select Farms in 1997 as a sow farm technician at Sow 10 and quickly progressed to a breeding department head. From there she was promoted again, landing as the manager of Swanson Sow Farm (Sow 5) where she led a team of 12 people.
Recently, Adriana was again promoted, this time to a dual site manager where she took over the leadership of a second farm, Sow 112, and also the responsibility of training key groups of new employees at her farms. “Adriana is a great trainer who is hands-on and does the job the correct way, every time,” said Chris Nydegger, Adriana’s supervisor. “It shows in her farm results and it shows in the people she trains.”
Adriana tries to offer as much advice as possible as she knows her trainees will only be with her for a short period of time before “leaving the nest” and moving on to other farms to fill roles in breeding and farrowing. In addition to encouraging them to make a difference in whatever they do, she tells them to do the jobs right, every time, and stay until the work is done.
“I feel really happy when I see them learn and start to understand why our different methods of animal care are important,” said Adriana. “When they become proficient and can start teaching others I know they will do great wherever they go,” said Adriana. “It’s rewarding when I hear from other managers that the trainees—turned full-fledged technicians, day one leads and breed leads—are doing really well and making an impact.”
Adriana also tells her trainees to be flexible. “Every farm and farm manager is a little bit different, and if you have your heart set on joining the breeding department, also be open to filling a position in farrowing,” she says. “Opportunities open up and having experience in all areas will make you a better employee in the long run.”
“Adriana is a very hard worker and she cares about her farms,” said Aaron Fopma, her other supervisor who echoes what Chris said. “She does things the right way, and takes the time to teach her people the proper way to care for the animals.”
And Adriana and her team’s results are telling, both Sow 5 and Sow 112 were recognized this past quarter in the SelectPride top ten list, and Sow 5 has had eight appearances in the top ten SelectPride rankings since 2009.
Adriana says her teams are dedicated and work hard every day to get all of the jobs done and go the extra mile. “I have two great teams I can count on. We meet in the mornings and get organized and make assignments, then head out to the barns and get to work.”
“I really like sow production,” said Adriana, who admits her favorite side of the farm is breeding. “I love to breed sows and then visit them later on in farrowing. I could stay all day in day one care tending to those litters, it’s a great feeling to see a lot of healthy piglets.”
Like many of our employees, Adriana said she also loves the science behind sow productivity—body condition scoring and nutrition, breeding and reproductive physiology and farrowing and colostrum management. “I love teaching the employees and showing them how prolific the sows are, and how much milk they are able to produce.”
Congratulations to Adriana, and thank you for sharing your story on #realpigfarming!