Kaylee Norris Shares How Career Pathways Inspired Her to Join our Industry
Kaylee majored in agriculture studies with a minor in business at Warner University in Lake Wales, FL. There, she was one of four top students selected for Career Pathways in conjunction with the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s annual conference. “Before attending this conference, I was certain ag education was the direction I was heading,” she recalls. “But after meeting so many wonderful people in the produce industry, from growers all the way up to CEOs of major retailers, and learning more about how the industry worked, I began to consider a career in the produce industry.”
Cathy Atchley, founder of On Point Ag, was matched with Kaylee as her Career Ambassador. Cathy introduced Kaylee to people and companies in the industry and encouraged her to take in everything the FFVA conference had to offer. “She provided great insight to what it was like being a young female in the agriculture industry,” Kaylee says of her mentor.
Following a senior-year internship at Highland Precision Ag in Mulberry, FL, Kaylee joined the company full-time upon her graduation in 2016. She’s part of Highland’s food safety department, helping customers comply with FSMA regulations and related audit requirements. She says she loves Highland’s “family atmosphere” and a job that keeps her on her toes and lets her work with farmers. “My co-workers are incredible and brilliant, and I could not ask to work for a better person than Steve Maxwell (CEO of the Highland Companies),” she says. “My job is also ever-changing. Each day is a new challenge with the opportunity to find solutions to make our farmers as efficient as possible and help them and their farms reach their full potential.”
Kaylee is pursuing an MBA with a focus in accounting at Warner and continues to thrive in the produce industry. She attended PMA’s Fresh Summit Conference & Expo in 2016 and relished the opportunity to reconnect with her fellow Career Pathways students. She’s come to realize, she says, how valuable relationships are in this field—with peers, customers, leaders and mentors. “I highly recommend that any student that has the opportunity to participate in Career Pathways do so,” she says. “And I’d also advise them to take every opportunity to meet as many people in the industry as possible.
“The agriculture industry is based heavily on relationships and the more relationships you can form, the more successful you will be.”
Learn more about the Career Pathways for talented students. Interested in helping guide these emerging professionals as they start thinking about their careers? Become a Career Ambassador.