In honor of National Agriculture Month, KAS is highlighting some of our employees who exemplify what it means to contribute to agricultural advances.
Typically, when you talk to an agriculturalist about how they got involved in agriculture, you’ll oftentimes find they grew up in it in some way or another. Whether it was helping their grandparents during the summers or being born into a family farm operation, it is an industry where roots run deep.
Kassidy Frederick, product manager, grew up in agriculture, but her experience offers a unique perspective. Frederick grew up on a family farm and custom harvesting operation—her first harvest starting at just three months old in Texas.
“Every spring was spent preparing for the summer harvest run. By the end of May, the harvest crew and my family loaded up with the equipment and headed south. Wheat harvest would wrap up in August and my mom, sister and I would head home for the school year while my dad and the harvest crew would transition to fall crop harvest.”
Growing up in a custom harvesting family may be a different lifestyle than most, but Frederick said she wouldn’t trade her experience for the world, despite seeing her friends less. She said she is proud to have learned how to work with family and be grateful for moments spent with the friends she made along the way. Frederick also said she loved how close the custom harvesting community was and the diversity that made up her family’s own hired crew.
“Each year we would hire about 20 to 25 guys to join our crew and they would come from all over the world— Ireland, England, Germany, and even Australia and New Zealand. As I have gotten older, I have had the chance to travel the world to visit those friends and their families, which have been some of my favorite memories.”
With such a large crew, Frederick said mealtimes were always her favorite as everyone would stop working and enjoy dinner together.
“Everyone would park the combines, gather around a pickup tailgate, eat a hot meal, and tell stories and laugh together.”
As many farming families will know, those moments surrounding mealtimes in the field may be the only interaction you get as a family between the hustle and bustle of harvesting as everyone has their individual jobs. For Frederick, her responsibilities were primarily driving the equipment and helping move from field to field.
“When I was younger, I started out by driving the grain cart, but as I got older, I transitioned to driving a combine, which in our crew, is how you knew you made it.”
Frederick remained an integral part of the family business until she began her sophomore year at Kansas State University where she pursued a degree in accounting.
“I took a break in college so I could gain some industry experience through internships and learn how to work in a different environment to broaden my horizon. I stayed in the agriculture industry throughout my internships and worked for an egg plant one year and a fertilizer retailer the next year.”
After graduating with a master’s degree in accountancy in 2013, Frederick accepted an accounting position with Koch Ag and Energy Solutions (KAES) where she stayed for four years. In 2017, Frederick joined the KAS product team.
“I really enjoyed accounting, but I wanted to get back to my roots in terms of business. I knew I didn’t want to leave KAES because I wanted the agriculture aspect, but with my background in farming, KAS was a perfect fit with the same values I grew up with.”
Despite having a career off the farm, Frederick still makes time to go back home and help where she can, even if it means using her vacation days.
“I remember one Fourth of July, my sister and I traveled to Southwest Kansas where my family was harvesting at the time and they were short staffed so my dad was like ‘Hey, can each of you jump in a combine and run one?’ and so that’s what we did until about 3 a.m. on our holiday.”
Frederick says growing up the way she did taught her a lot about work ethic and taking ownership. Without it, she said she doesn’t know where she’d be today.
“You did what you had to do on a farm and on harvest. It’s not really an option to work—it’s your lifestyle and your family’s livelihood. I think a lot of that lines up with KAS’s principles, especially pertaining to entrepreneurship. Every farmer is an entrepreneur.”
Even though Frederick is no longer involved in the day-to-day activities of the farm or harvest, she remains committed to helping contribute to the future of agriculture through innovation in her current role.
“As an industry, we have come a long way over the years, but I think there is still a long way to go as far as the products and technology we use and making them more efficient. I also think it’s nice that I can go home and talk to my dad when I can about the things we’re [KAS] doing and how some of those products play a role in agricultural efficiency.”
Frederick said being able to talk to her dad about some of the work she is doing helps keep that connection to her roots and bring that innovation back into the farm. She said it also helps her keep KAS’s customers top of mind.
“It affects him too in some ways and helps him be a more efficient farmer. Plus, he likes using our [KAS] products and I think that’s a pretty cool connection to have.”
Frederick says she sees her family farming for many years to come and staying busy with custom harvesting alongside a cow and crop operation of their own. As for Frederick, she plans to continue her contributions to agriculture within KAS and going home to help on occasion.