This is My Story - Andria Karstens, Climate Business Manager
November 12, 2018
Andria Karstens, the Climate Business Manager representing Southwestern Ontario, is a team player through and through. From her earliest days growing up on a mixed farm in Wilkie, Saskatchewan, teamwork has been a way of life.
“My parents always encouraged me and my younger siblings to be active on the farm, but they also supported our decision to play sports,” Andria says. “All I really remember from those days was going to school, playing sports, and farming.”
As a kid, Andria’s days on the farm mostly consisted of feeding the chickens, minding the cows and keeping the lawn and hedges looking neat. From canola fields to soccer fields, life was defined by opportunities to pitch in. Whether the goal was a smoother harvest, or winning that next game, it’s always been about working towards that bigger purpose.
“It was always pretty busy on the farm,” says Andria. “But when there was work to be done, we all did it together.”
Now, as one of the newest additions to The Climate Corporation team in Canada, Andria is doing it again – this time, with the goal of helping other farmers.
“It’s really cool to be a part of this, and to have that team aspect again,” she says. “New ideas come from that – everything just runs better when you have good people to work with.”
Andria’s work ethic wasn’t the only thing she picked up from her upbringing. Somehow between all the games and chores, Andria started cultivating a healthy appreciation for technology – but not without working for it first.
“My parents put me in piano lessons when I was younger, and I had to practice and take all these exams. So, to make sure I followed through, my parents bribed me with a laptop,” Andria laughs, “So I ended up getting the laptop, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
While those early days messing around on her hard-earned laptop eventually translated into a natural literacy for computer applications, Andria recognizes that not everyone shares her comfort level with technology. These days, she works closely with farmers at Grower Meetings, where concerns around taking on something as game changing as FieldViewTM come up fairly regularly. While most growers with those worries are typically surprised by how quickly they get the hang of it, Andria acknowledges the empathy it takes to connect with folks whose first impulse is to put up walls.
“I’ve travelled to a few different countries and this has made me realize how fortunate I am to have grown up the way I did,” Andria says. “I think that’s helped me recognize that everyone’s at a different place – it’s recognizing that someone might be having a bad day, a bad month, or a bad year, and just being patient with them.”
That goes a long way when you’re spearheading a rapidly changing new niche within an industry steeped in tradition. It can be a big job, but when Andria is able to get her customers set up, the results are a reminder of that bigger purpose – helping people to farm smarter.
“I’ve talked to some people who have been using the Climate FieldViewTM platform for a full year now, and it strikes me how powerful they feel with the on-the-go analysis they can do,” Andria says. “Teaching them how to use those tools really helps them to understand what’s happening on their farms.”
And sometimes, that comes with some unexpected victories.
“Recently, I got a call from a grower I hadn’t even met yet,” Andria says, “He said he was at his buddy’s place, and his buddy was showing him the platform on his iPad®. He asked me how he could get that on his farm. That felt like a ‘win’ to me.”
In Andria’s view, a ‘win’ today could mean something much bigger for agriculture in general. The ability to show how different products and management techniques are working on two fields side-by-side is certainly helpful nowadays, but she predicts it may be a necessity in the future.
“The way things are going, the more information we have about what we’re doing on our farms, the better off we’ll be,” she says. “If we can prove that we use fertilizers and pesticides on our farms in an environmentally sustainable manner, increasing yields and lowering the environmental impact it will really help our case as these things become more scrutinized and possibly regulated.”
That reality touches everyone in the agriculture industry – whether you’re a Climate Business Manager, a retailer, or farmers like Andria’s parents. After all, we’re all on the same team.
“This is a great industry to be a part of,” Andria says. “I’ve seen firsthand, moving from Saskatchewan to Ontario, that we’re so fortunate. No matter which part of the industry you work in, you’re always working with amazing people working towards a common goal.”