Marketing Representative, John Deere and Company, Chantal Herrera, Des Moines, Iowa USA


“The agriculture industry has showed me the blood, sweat, and tears that are behind one strawberry. We have many people that live in the shadows of our communities who are here because the left everything, to give their families everything.”

Chantal Herrera is originally from Guadalupe, California, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Communication from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before moving to Des Moines, Iowa to for John Deere and Company as a Marketing Representative following graduation.

Chantal’s family has worked hard her entire life to contribute to the agriculture industry, starting with her grandfather who would migrate from Mexico to the United States seasonally under the Bracero Program and whose hard work and dedication of manual labor in the agriculture fields later allowed him to become a citizen of the United States. Her father migrated from Mexico to California at the age of 14, and from the ages of 7-12, she spent most of her summers harvesting lettuce and strawberries next to her father. This is where her appreciation of handpicked produce began.

Her goal is to continue to learn about different agriculture practices around the world, in order to be an advocate for the agriculture industry. As marketing representative at John Deere Chantal acts as “the voice of the customer.” The COVID crisis has impacted the agriculture industry in many ways across the country — from the Central Coast of California where her family resides where many acres of vegetable crops were not planted due to there being no demand from restaurants, schools, and other enterprise — to the decrease in commodity prices out in the Midwest where she currently resides.

This pandemic situation has put a halt on her plans to move, and to transition into a new professional role. Chantal shares that she hopes this situation inspires people to realize how “essential” the agricultural industry truly is. She keeps herself busy in quarantine by playing with her new puppy, and crafting homemade gifts for herself and her loved ones.

Read more about Chantal’s COVID Chronicle, below:

“[Less demand] does not mean the laborers get to rest. You will still see hardworking men and women hunched over in challenging working conditions planting, irrigating, harvesting these fields to provide fresh produce on our kitchen tables every day.” 

Courtesy of @chantalmh13

Could you share a bit about your experience with the agriculture industry and what it has taught you, that other people may not be aware of?

“I have been involved with agriculture since I was young. I like to say that my passion for agriculture began with my grandfather. He would migrate from Mexico to the United States seasonally under the Bracero Program. His hard work and dedication of manual labor in the agriculture fields later allowed him to become a citizen of the United States.

My father migrated from Mexico to California at the age of 14. He sacrificed everything to give his family everything! Growing up I would always listen to stories from my dad and grandfather about the labor-intensive work conditions they were going through day to day. At the age of seven, I got to experience them. From the age of seven until I was 12, I spent most of my summers harvesting lettuce and strawberries next to my father. And this is were my appreciation of handpicked produce began.

The agriculture industry has showed me the blood, sweat, and tears that are behind one strawberry. We have many people that live in the shadows of our communities who are here because the left everything, to give their families everything.”

Courtesy of @chantalmh13

What’s the biggest challenge you feel like you’ve faced during quarantine/the COVID crisis?

“In my currently role, my job is to be the voice of the customer. The most challenging part for me during the COVID crisis has been being there for our customers without being able to physically be there. I work with the Tillage Marketing team and being spring tillage season, it has been so hard on us to not be able to go to customer’s operations and see them run tillage equipment. I think my team and I have been doing great brainstorming ways to support our customers during this year’s tillage season regardless of the current situation. Support from us is not a challenge farmers here in the Midwest are facing, it is the decrease in commodity prices that are truly affecting them. 

In regards to challenges my family has been experiencing within the agriculture industry and COVID in the Central Coast of California, many acres of vegetable crops were not planted due to their being no demand from restaurants, schools, and other enterprises.

That does not mean the laborers get to rest. You will still see hardworking men and women hunched over in challenging working conditions planting, irrigating, harvesting these fields to provide fresh produce on our kitchen tables every day.” 

“I really hope this article shines some light on the agriculture industry and reminds others to appreciate where their food comes from.”

Is there anything you feel that this COVID/quarantine experience and the current state of our world has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration?

“I have learned a lot over quarantine! How to adjust to working from home, getting my nails done every other week was not necessary, I have learned how to be more creative while cooking to try to replicate some of my favorite restaurant meals, calling my loved ones more often, and so much more.

I have known this, but I would hope that people would see that the agriculture industry has been and always will be essential.”

Courtesy of @chantalmh13

Has this experience in any way changed the way that you order your priorities in life?  

“Oh absolutely! You know the saying, “you don’t know what you have until its gone?” yup! I experienced just that during this quarantine, but I have learned that I prioritized so many things before that really aren’t that important now.

I would always say I was “too busy” to pick up the phone and have a quick phone called with my loved ones, I “never had time” to explore outdoors, I was “too tired from work” to workout…All of that has changed and I truly feel so happy. Now that I have adjusted to my new office space (a small table that squeezed its way into my apartment bedroom) I feel as if I have so much more time and energy to do all the little things I couldn’t do before.” 

Where are you living right now? Is this where you permanently reside, or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic?

“I currently live in a one-bedroom apartment in Des Moines Iowa. This was supposed to be a temporary situation as I was supposed to transition to a new role and buy a house. My quarantine partners have been my boyfriend and my new pup, Roo.” 

“I think my community has been taking the same major social distancing precautions as many around the country.”

Courtesy of @roo_the_aussie_ who is literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen

What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?

“Well, the pup has been helping! But I now have time to craft and make homemade gifts for myself and loved ones. This way I can express myself through things I make and keep my mind occupied.” 

Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?

“I had planned to go to Japan this summer to celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday….I was most disappointed in the few trips I had planned to California, to celebrate holidays and birthdays with my family.”

Anything else at all, that you’d like to share?

“I really hope this article shines some light on the agriculture industry and reminds others to appreciate where their food comes from.”

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