Jennifer is the new AAEA Membership Committee Co-Chairperson
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Kiel and I am the editor for Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer online, and co-editor of American Agriculturist. I have been with Michigan Farmer for 18 years and MF/OF combined for 7 years. The consolidation with AA happened this year.
I’m a one-stop-shop. I write stories of all kinds, from human interest and herbicide options, to farm equipment and crop scouting. In addition to writing, I edit stories, take photos, slot stories and proof pages. One of the favorite aspects of my job is putting on and covering the Master Farmer programs in Michigan and Ohio. The events showcase farming at its finest, coupled with community and ag leadership.
Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Davenport University with a degree in business management. I chose that major because I was already employed full time in the newspaper industry, where I worked for more than decade for various weeklies and dailies. I moved on to cover agriculture with the Michigan Farm Bureau as the state communications and public relations manager, then as the communications manager for the Michigan Agri-Business Association and American Farmland Trust before joining the Farm Progress family.
When did you join AAEA? How has the group benefited you and/or your career?
AMS is so important to Farm Progress that even though my start date was August 11, 2003, they sent me to the summit before I was on the job. I’ve been to every AMS since that date. I served on the AAEA Board for a short time and six years on the Professional Improvement Board. I also chaired the writing committee for a few years.
By being part of AAEA provides the opportunity to compete in writing and photo competitions, but it’s also about connecting with my peers each year. It’s exciting to get together with a group of talented people who are doing the same thing I do and are passionate about it too. The break-out sessions provide a recharge and the opportunity to learn or broaden career skills.
I earned the AAEA Master Writer honor in 2006 and Writer of Merit distinction in 2017. I haven’t been quite as successful in the photo category, but I’m working on it.
What do you like to do on your days off?
For many years I was busy attending sporting events of my two daughters and three step-children – everything from softball and wresting, to basketball and volleyball. Chris and I have been married for eight years. All the kids have graduated from high school and three are college graduates. Chris’s oldest daughter and her husband gave us our first grandchild last year and my youngest daughter got married – a couple of highlights despite the pandemic.
I never anticipated this, but I am part of a military family. My oldest daughter is a Captain in the Marines (based in Indiana as an Officer Recruit Officer) and her husband is a Sergeant in the Army Reserves. She is also a professional, all-natural body builder. My youngest daughter is a USDA Soil Conservationist and a Sergeant in the Army Reserves and her husband served in the Marines.
I also like to read, snow ski, garden and cook (most of the time).