Kafer with Grandfather John Hastings
Kafer ’ s father Jim Hastings
Her dad ( Jim Hastings ) worked for the Illinois Grain Corporation , first at a grain elevator and then rising up to a management level . That company ultimately became part of GROWMARK in 1980 . Her dad ’ s role meant she moved around quite a bit .
“ I ’ ve lived up and down the Illinois River ,” comments Kafer .
After graduating from the University of Illinois , she went to work for a rural electric cooperative in Mattoon , Ill ., as the communications director . After three years there , she then moved on to another communications role with the Illinois Soybean Association . Kafer says she was happy in that role , but her father made her aware of an opening at GROWMARK in 1993 for Publications Manager .
“ I didn ’ t plan on working where my dad worked , but in my heart , I knew I wanted to be in agriculture for the long term , and this was a terrific opportunity to tell the stories of the GROWMARK System ,” adds Kafer .
Klinefleter award winner Jean Jantzen ( left ) and Graznak award winner Ann Hastings at the CCA Communications Awards Banquet
Kafer with Ag teacher Max Tessler
Kafer says she enjoyed the role , being able to travel to different locations throughout the country , relaying the stories of the people who were making the System successful every day .
“ I always saw the real value in telling the story of what the System stands for and what we can do for our customers , and on behalf of their customers ultimately .”
Her career took what she calls a complete left turn , in 2011 .
“ I was asked if I would have an interest in the Compliance Officer position and my first reaction was ‘ why would I want to do that ?’,” recalls Kafer . “ I didn ’ t have the subject matter expertise . But I soon learned that it was the first opportunity to hear peoples ’ stories and get to the bottom of the story , much like journalism . It ’ s certainly not an easy job but it can be rewarding in the sense of looking at it through the lens of creating a path back to a successful future . I truly believe that most people want to do well in their roles .”
Publications Manager - 1993