Farm meets City in annual job swap

Published 10:13 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

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Stephanie Baker and Halston Motes participated in the Pike County Farm City Committee’s 2021 Job Swap on Thursday.

After swapping roles for a day, both had gained a deep appreciation for the work the other does and were secure in the assurance that they each are in exactly the right workplace.

Baker is director of market development at KW Plastics Recycling Division I. Motes is in the business of agriculture. He raises broilers, corn, cattle and hay, maintains the farming equipment, does the bookkeeping and assumes the risks that are inherent with the job.

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The Job Swap is designed so that each participant has the opportunity to visit the other at his or her job site. Motes had the opportunity to visit the office of KW Plastics, meet the personnel and learn more about the ins and outs of the plastics business.

“I knew that KW Plastics is the world’s largest plastic recycler but I had

no idea of all that went into recycling plastic,” Motes said. “I didn’t realize there are so many different people doing so many different things. I was very impressed.”

Motes was surprised to learn of the amount of planning that went into getting the products to the customers.

“I learned how important customer service is and that sales are made by office personnel and there are also those out on the road making sales,” he said. “And, there’s purchasing. To make a good product you have to have good materials and I was impressed at how important getting good, quality product is.”

Motes said making plastic often means working with “trash.”

He learned that, although some materials look like trash they have good qualities while others that appear to be good materials could be contaminated.

“I was impressed that KW Plastics gets materials from so many places,” he said. “It was also interesting that KW Plastics had to reject or downgrade 30 loads of materials from Australia.”

“KW accepts only quality materials because they are outstanding recyclers. I appreciate what they do to turn materials that have been thrown away into something useful. I was very impressed by all they do.”

Baker said she has always respected the farming industry but after participating in the job swap, she has new appreciation for local farmers.

“I learned that farming is not simply a job, it is a lifestyle,” Baker said. “You don’t get to clock out or have a day where you aren’t thinking about your farm.

“My work requires me to be on the phone, computer or in meetings the majority of the day and it is often fast paced. When I was driving the tractor, it was a peaceful moment enjoying a pretty day. I can imagine farmers get a lot of time to think or talk to God in the cab of their tractors, at least until the weather conditions change or there is an equipment failure.”

Baker said she plays a fairly small role in her company compared to Motes.

“At KW, we have many employees with specific roles and individual specialties.  A farmer has to be all things,” she said.

“Although our two industries are very different, I think we found a lot of similarities.  Halston makes bales of hay and KW Plastics purchases bales of plastic to feed our washline. Halston works closely with his grandfather and I get the privilege to work for my father in a business he created.”

Baker said she and Halston both understand that the work they do today impacts the environment and the success of their businesses impacts their community.   

Baker said she learned that farmers don’t look at other farmers as competitors. It seems there is a mutual respect for the extreme investments and risks they each have and they are quick to share their equipment and expertise with one another.      

“I will never drive by another farm again and simply see dirt,” Baker said. “I now know that an incredible amount of investment goes into the making a farm work, from the equipment to seed and feed, insurance and the physical and emotional turmoil of battling weather and market conditions that are out of the farmer’s control.”

Both Baker and Motes were impressed with and appreciative of the work the other does. However, when the day is done each of them goes home with the assurance that he and she are where they should be and are dedicated to the challenge to bloom where they are planted.