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Rachel Hankins, Barenbrug USA

Rachel joined the PSA board this year. She is the Grower Services Business Manager, Operations for Barenbrug USA.

We asked Rachel a few questions about her thoughts on the Industry, her career and a few fun questions about herself.

Company / Personal Questions:

I was born and raised in the “Grass Seed Capital of the World.” I tried to branch out with a degree in Natural Resources for Forestry, but I got pulled back in. I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years in a variety of roles and currently am the Barenbrug USA Grower Services Business Manager for our Operations division. I’ve been with Barenbrug USA for 2 years.

PSA questions:

What I love most about the PSA is forming relationships and seeing people outside of more formal events. There is so much opportunity for networking and getting to know each other on a more personal level.

I’ve only attended one annual meeting, and all of the quarterly lunch and learns. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite seed organizations and meetings to attend.

Just jump in! The quarterly lunch speakers have been a great way to start getting involved and seeing what PSA has to offer. I won’t judge you if you have your camera off so you can eat your lunch!

Industry Questions

I love the family atmosphere and connections in the seed industry. I get to work with 3rd and 4th generation farmers, people who’ve put so much work into their farms and care so deeply about the land. I’m always excited when I see the next generation starting to be involved and carry on that legacy.

Be prepared for a roller coaster. The number of times we’ve had an “average year” since I started is definitely not often enough to be average. Every time I feel like I understand the industry or the market, something happens and you are learning all over again.

One of the quotes I love about the seed industry is “Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.” - Usually attributed to Paul Harvey

Career Questions

Does my MBA count as my biggest professional achievement? I went back to school at OSU and was able to graduate in 2018 with my Masters in Business Administration in Innovation Management. It was a LONG 3 years, and my amazing husband supported me and took on additional responsibilities with the kids so I could finish. I learned so much during that time.

Some of the advice I live by is “Whenever you have to make a tough decision, think about how you would feel sitting on a stand explaining that decision to a judge or jury. It was given to me by one of the old timers at Oregon Seed Certification Service.

I’m definitely one of those people that don’t have specific goals. If I feel like I’m not learning anything or pushing myself, then I’ll figure out what’s next. If I keep myself challenged, I’m happy!

Fun Questions

I’m from Lebanon, Oregon, and I got both my degrees at OSU! I did study abroad in Sydney, Australia.

A memory I have , (which I’ve learned is a shared experience of farm kids) is picking up rocks out of fields. My first “job” was walking through the field after it’d been plowed picking up rocks and putting them on the farm truck. I thought it was just because Dad was crazy – but apparently this is a rite of passage for farm kids. I will admit I look back on it more fondly now, especially since I still have a few of the rocks we found, the ones that were petrified wood or fossils from the Missoula floods.

I’m definitely a morning person! I look back at my college years and wonder how I ever survived staying up so late.

Photo includes Barenbrug USA Tangent Employees (not pictured, Othello, Boardman, and Booker plant operations, field staff or remote sales staff)

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