This Is My Story – Jenna Metzger, Climate Business Manager
September 6, 2018
Jenna Metzger’s family has been farming so long, it’s hard to say for sure how many generations they go back. In fact, Jenna’s family – the MacDougalls – were recently recognized by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for carrying on the farm tradition since Confederation. With a history like that, it makes perfect sense that the Ontario-based Climate Business Manager’s upbringing was rooted in a more traditional way of doing things.
“My family actually owned an Allis Chalmers tractor dealership,” Jenna says, “Dad still holds onto the orange tractors here and there.”
Life may have been low-tech, but it was certainly rewarding. Days spent helping her Dad with chores around the barn were the highlights of Jenna’s childhood.
“Haying season always seemed like the most fun,” she says, “That was the time I could actually help carry a bale here and there.”
While Jenna admits that hauling hay bales may not sound like a great time to the average person, it was rewarding to be part of a bigger purpose. It was the same purpose that called her to farming after high school, when a lightbulb went off and seemed to shed light on her path.
“A moment that really shaped me was making the decision to go to Guelph University for Agriculture,” she says, “I thought, why not go to school for something I grew up with, something I love?”
Since graduating with a major in Crop Science, Jenna took on several roles in the ag space working with brands like Monsanto. Then one day, she got an email about Climate FieldViewTM, which at the time hadn’t yet launched in Canada. She remembers feeling curious right away.
“This was something so new and neat,” says Jenna. “I wanted to find out more.” It wasn’t long before Jenna and her colleagues received directives to complete training with the platform. Instructions like that don’t come every day, so it was clear from the start that FieldView was about to be a big deal. Even so, it can be tough to feel excited about mandatory training modules – or so Jenna thought.
“It was actually super cool,” she laughs, “I would have wanted to rush to just get the training done, but I kept thinking, wow, this is actually really neat, and really easy and fun to use.”
The platform made such an impression on Jenna, she decided to pursue a role as Climate Business Manager in her south-central region of Ontario. Working for the company was an exciting change, but for someone whose first cell phone was more-or-less a roadside emergency tool, there was a certain intimidation factor when it came time to dive into the technology.
“I remember the first time I went to show the platform to a farmer, I was so nervous to set up the [FieldView™] Drive with the combine,” Jenna recalls, “I had been so anxious the whole drive up. Then when Lydia and I got to the farm, I was shocked at how easy it was to set up. I remember feeling silly for ever feeling anxious in the first place.”
Since then, Jenna’s career and relationship to the platform has evolved a lot. While it’s always fun to test out new features before they launch, the best moments are always shared with farmers.
“Earlier this spring, I went to put a plot in with a dealer and some customers interested in FieldView. I hopped in the cab with an older gentleman who I could tell was not very up to new technology and didn’t really see a fit for it,” she says. “It had been a trying spring, and it was ‘go-time’, so he didn’t really have time to mess around. But when we got it set up with the equipment and he started to see some of the information coming in, I could tell he already loved it.”
Those moments, when Jenna gets to see how much even the most basic FieldView features can impact a farmer’s job, are the reason Jenna says she loves what she does.
“We just chit chatted about everyday life, and at one point I brought up another cool tool in the platform,” she laughs, “He goes, ‘you know, at this point you already have me sold on it, I’m really just enjoying having a good conversation with you.’”
It’s interactions like these that allow Jenna to help farmers build working relationships, both with the Climate FieldView platform itself and the Climate team that supports it.
“Digital ag in general, I think, is a big step for Canada,” she says, “When you think back to when GPS came out on equipment, not a lot of people had it. Now, some people don’t know what they would do without it.”
She sees Climate FieldView playing a similar role.
“I think people will look back in a few years and think, ‘hey, remember when we couldn’t see satellite imagery? Yeah, that was weird.’”
And just like any big development, that change is gradual. Seldom do these potential-loaded technological advances take over the industry overnight. In reality, the momentum for big things like Climate FieldView builds little by little, farmer by farmer, conversation by conversation.
It also takes people like Jenna to be part of making that change happen, all working toward the bigger purpose of helping farmers get even better at what they do. It’s a bigger task than hauling hay bales – but it’s still a ton of fun.