Six years ago, Jonathan Carter was teaching and serving as horticulture supervisor of the on-campus farm at Morehead State University — his alma mater — in Morehead, Kentucky. He had been working at the university for a couple of years and really enjoyed interacting with the students. But he knew he wanted to do something else.
Several college friends worked at Farm Credit Mid-America and tried to recruit him. But he wasn’t quite ready to make the move.
That’s when love intervened. Jonathan had been dating his girlfriend Meredith, now his wife, for four years. Meredith was working in Louisville, and the three-hour commute between the cities to see each other was simply too much.
“I started looking at some of the job opportunities in the agriculture sector that were available in the Louisville market,” he remembers. “Farm Credit was one of the first things that popped up.”
A growing experience
Jonathan began his Farm Credit Mid-America career working in sales for the crop insurance division. Today, he leads Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward Program, which supports young, beginning and small farmers in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Growing Forward helps these farmers get established with specialized loans and provides them with educational resources, which empowers them to be more successful as they enter the field of production agriculture.
The specific needs and concerns of young farmers is something Jonathan relates to, because he started his own agriculture career at a very young age. He grew up on a diversified operation that raised row crops, beef cattle and tobacco, and he purchased his own cows at age 16. He farmed all through college with a partner until career paths led them in different directions.
“Before moving to Louisville, I rarely ventured outside of eastern Kentucky,” he says. “When I was interviewing with Farm Credit, everyone was so friendly. It was a no-brainer. I was ready to jump onboard.”
Making a difference
Jonathan finds a number of parallels between his teaching position and leading the Growing Forward program. “Part of how we support young farmers is by developing curriculum and putting on educational conferences to help them from a financial education perspective,” he says. “I’ve used a lot of my education background in my current role.”
His job also brings him a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that the Growing Forward team is making a difference. “I believe we’re accomplishing something meaningful through the program,” he says. “It’s not just checking off boxes or crunching numbers. We’re doing work that is going to affect young farmers — the next generation of customers — who are going to be farming for the next 10, 20 and 30 years.”
Coaching colleagues, nurturing friendships
One attractive aspect of working at Farm Credit that has surprised Jonathan is the degree of access to senior leadership. “For example, I talk to our CEO frequently, and not always about work — it might be about the basketball game last night,” he says. “Farm Credit is a relationship-driven company.” Jonathan also takes advantage of the coaching culture that is encouraged at Farm Credit: Staff members can coach colleagues at all levels of the organization.
“When I see an opportunity, I’m extremely comfortable approaching my superiors to offer them coaching. On the flip side, colleagues who report to me are always encouraged to provide coaching to me and to other staff members. Our senior leadership team fully supports this coaching culture, and it’s become a normal part of doing business.”
Ask Jonathan what impresses him most about Farm Credit, and he’ll say the inviting atmosphere. “When I came to Farm Credit, I didn’t know very many people who worked here. Now, some of my closest friends — people who were at my wedding — are the people I work with. I think that’s pretty unique.”
Think you might be interested in joining the team? To learn more about careers at Farm Credit Mid-America, visit our careers page.