Swine Farm Manager rom Guadalajara Living Out His Passion
“I’m a professional swine farm manager and I’m from Mexico,” Raul Romero-Gonzalez will proudly tell you. Raul is from Guadalajara. He’s here on a TN work visa, living out his passion and talent for pig farming at Iowa Select Farms. Raul wasn’t raised on a farm, but he attended the University of Guadalajara’s College of Agriculture and Biological Science. He remembers the day his college professor brought piglets to class. “I was fascinated by how curious and energetic they were,” he said.
It wasn’t long before Raul started helping his friends on their sow farm and going on swine farm field trips—even if it wasn’t his class. That immediate love for pigs propelled him to take more classes in farm business, eventually leading to a degree in animal science.
After college, Raul applied to Iowa Select Farms and got a work visa. He took a leap of faith, moving to Iowa to start a new chapter, one that has led him to being gilt developer farm manager near Osceola after some time in northern Iowa as a breeding specialist.
“My team is good. They’re experienced and they know what to do,” he said of his fellow employees. “I don’t give orders – we work together. They are not afraid to say something if they have an idea or if they think something is not right.”
Open communication was not always easy for someone who did not grow up speaking English. Now that he is fluent, Romero helps other Spanish-speaking workers in Iowa handle day-to-day tasks like opening a bank account, ordering online, getting a tow truck for their car or understanding work visa requirements.
Raul feels right at home in Iowa—and not just because of the pigs. Even though he’s from Guadalajara, Raul is definitely Iowa nice. He’ll help anyone who needs a hand, gives back by volunteering for the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation and serves as a firefighter in Osceola. He was also elected by his peers to serve on Iowa Select Farms’ TN Leadership Council, a group that represents his coworkers also with the TN work visa.
“There are a lot of things that make me proud of the Council and all of our TN employees,” said Megan Kaestner, HR Specialist. “But I think the one thing that stands out most is the way they support one another. They always seem to go above and beyond to be a voice for their peers.”
Between the events they’ve planned and the questions that they bring to the council meetings, Kaestner says the Council has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that their peers feel welcomed.
“I want to help make the transition easier for other TN’s that may experience a “culture shock” when they get here,” he said. “I want to help them feel comfortable even being so far away from home.”
In his role as a TN leader, Raul serves as a link between other TN employees and the company. “I like to think that we help unify everyone’s ideas and potential to reach some big goals,” he said. “Whether on farm on outside of work interacting with other TNs, my goal as a leader is to challenge my team and encourage them to grow.”
Although the Council has accomplished a lot in the past four years, Raul is most proud of an upcoming project they’re working on and hopeful will happen—summer games.
“The idea is to have a tournament in each area of the state (north, central and south) and the champions of each area will compete against each other at the end for an overall winner,” he explained. “We’ll compete in sports, but most importantly, it will be an opportunity for everyone to come together in a fun way.”
Meaningful connections are something that Raul appreciates, and in fact, one of his favorite things about working at Iowa Select Farms.
“I like that despite the fact that our farms are scattered throughout the state and there are hundreds of people working in all of them, everyone feels like a family,” he said. “It’s what makes our events so enjoyable. Everyone supports each other and is working towards the same goals together.”