Former farm kids – Today’s farm insurance experts

Patti Lemke’s story


Patti Lemke, Sr. Agribusiness Underwriter, spent her entire young life living and working on a farm. Her parents owned and operated a small farm in Eden, Wis. that milked 65 cows in a stanchion barn, and she worked on a large dairy farm that milked 700 head from the time she was 14 until she left for college.

Anyone who has milked in a stanchion barn knows it’s not easy on the knees. Patti always knew she wanted to pursue a career in agribusiness, but didn’t see herself running her family’s farm.

“The people in the agriculture community are some of the most passionate and hardworking people I’ve ever encountered. Being an Agribusiness Underwriter gives me the opportunity to support the community that has given so much to me,” Patti said.

She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a degree in Agribusiness Management which led to her first job as a Specialty Lines Underwriter. Patti stayed in this position until she learned of an opening for an Agribusiness Underwriter at SECURA.

“This position seemed like a perfect fit, and it has given me the opportunity to put my farm knowledge and experiences to good use,” Patti said.

Welcome to the farm


At home, there was plenty of work to go around and Patti helped out wherever she was told – feeding the calves and cows, milking, picking stones, or baling hay.
While picking stones seems to be a memory for most farm kids, Patti remembers it specifically because of the traditions that came with it — ring bologna sandwiches and root beer floats in the field and a dinner out with the family when the last stone was
picked.

“We went out to eat once a year,” Patti said. “And that’s not an exaggeration. I think Mom knew it wasn’t a fun job and tried to make up for it.”

After all the chores were done, there was still time to have some fun. Patti and her siblings loved feed cart rides in the barn courtesy of their dad, and one of Patti’s favorite memories is riding in the cab of the tractor with her mom while she did field work.


“I would bring books to occupy myself and curl up behind the seat wearing a football helmet so I wouldn’t hit my head as we bounced along,” Patti remembered.

Patti showed dairy cattle at the county and state fair through 4-H and Jr. Holstein. Her involvement in 4-H provided the opportunity for her to participate in a project called Dairy Herd Management which allowed her to tour farms all across the state and learn about different operations and management –grazing operations, to every kind of parlor set up, labor management, and nutrient management systems.

“Through 4-H and Jr. Holstein, I was able to meet people from all across the state. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding. You work with your farm animal every day to get them ready and you didn’t always get the blue ribbon” Patti said. “I learned a lot of life lessons in the show ring, like how to handle success and deal with disappointment.”



From picking stones to writing policies


Though she doesn’t spend as much time on the farm as she used to, Patti’s farm background has given her a strong work ethic and the ability to solve problems creatively. No matter the task, Patti is committed to “getting things done and doing them right” — something she learned on the farm. Her talent for crafting creative solutions benefits both agents and policyholders as she works to write the best possible coverage.

This story is part of a new blog series highlighting the stories and experiences of some of the truly “homegrown” members of our Farm-Ag team.