This profile is part of a series that highlights Chesapeake College graduates serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more in this series, visit our Alumni Profiles page.
Your Name: Jennifer (Jenny) L. Rhodes
Year that you graduated from Chesapeake College: 1984
Degree or Certification that you received from Chesapeake College: Business Administration
1. Farmer – chicken and grain
2. Principal Agent Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Maryland Extension, Queen Anne’s County (County Ag Agent)
What impact did your experience at Chesapeake College have on your life?
Chesapeake College continues to impact my life in many ways. Working full-time and attending college is not easy, but no one ever said life was going to be easy. Education is so important these days whether it’s a degree program, certificate programs or continuing education. After my AA degree I have been back to take continuing education classes, and classes for the BS degree during the summer. I now host Extension programs, workshops and training on the campus for agriculture and do some guest lecturing in the Agriculture classes. I also partner with the college to host events such as our Harvest Breakfast and just recently the Mountaire Chicken Sale for our community.
How are you serving your community in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Farming: Still producing nutritious, safe, cheap food (chicken) for our community
Extension Ag Agent: I am still able to make farm calls while teleworking from my farm/home office. July 20th our office will reopen with staggering days for agents and farmers/homeowners/clientele will need to call the office to make an appointment. I have spent a lot of my time on the phone with my farmers and clientele. I have found new ways to communicate and educate with my farmers through more emails and conducting Zoom (video) meetings. I am still hosting my monthly Grain Marketing/Timely Ag Issues meeting but instead of in person we use Zoom. We can at least still see each other and I can teach. Our commercial poultry agents/specialist started a weekly Grower Lunch with Extension where we have open discussion and will host speakers on important topics.
Extension, QAC Farm Bureau, QA County Gov’t & Sheriff’s office partnered with Chesapeake College to offer the first Mountaire Chicken Sale in QAC. See attached for more information on the community impact of that sae.
How did your experience at Chesapeake College prepare you for your current career?
I was able to take classes at night and work during the day. No matter what field you enter into your career, business skills will always help you professionally and personally.
It was a wonderful atmosphere to learn. Others in the class were working and attending school at night, so there was a lot to share and work together.
I love the flexibility of a community college and how they work together with our community. They have a great open door policy.
What has been your most rewarding professional achievement/experience since graduating from Chesapeake College?
I can’t just pick one… I have been very blessed.
Establishing an Agriculture program at Chesapeake College and then receiving the Pride of the Peake 2017 when I saw our local community give back to the scholarship fund that was set up was the most gratifying. Over $30,000 was raised. I have spent a lot of my time volunteering on agriculture committees/boards and being the voice of agriculture.
Chairman of the board, MidAtlantic Farm Credit – Never in a million years growing up did I ever think I would be chair of a board of a $3 billion cooperative that supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow.
J. Frank Gordy. Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award. Given to a person for their leadership in the poultry industry, for educating, volunteering and being the voice of the chicken industry on Delmarva.
Attaining Principal Agent with the University of Maryland Extension, College Park. This is a tenure system and the equivalent of a professor on campus, but instead of students my main focus is to teach farmers and our community.
What advice would you like to give to current or prospective Chesapeake College students?
No matter your age, Chesapeake College is there for all of us. Set goals in your life some short term and some long term. You will continue to grow as you set goals.
There are many things that may come and go in your lifetime, but no one can ever take away your education!