WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Jen Sorenson’s passion for the pork industry has not only served her well in the ag communications world, but has given her an opportunity to tout the industry from rural towns in Iowa to the nation’s capital.
Sorenson is the director of communications for Iowa Select Farms, and is president- elect of the National Pork Producers Council. She grew up on a farm near Donnellson in southeast Iowa, where her father was a contract grower for Tri-Oak Farms — a job he still does today at the age of 80.
“I didn’t show pigs, but my goal was always to be a part of the pork industry,” Sorenson says. “I’ve had a passion for hog production all my life.”
She attended Iowa State University, majoring in journalism/public relations and animal science. For the past two decades, Sorenson has worked in ag communications, including the last nine years for Iowa Select.
Sorenson and her husband Josh have one daughter — Anna, age 7.
She says her work with Iowa Select extends well past pork production.
“I work for the most generous and caring owners — Jeff and Deb Hansen — and a leadership team that is 100% focused on doing the right thing when it comes to our animals, our people, our environment and our communities,” she says. I work in the areas of communications, community outreach, public affairs and public relations, and my team executes recognition events, employee outings, customer tours, open houses and the eight programs of the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation.
“We take very seriously our responsibility of authentically telling the stories of our farmers and their commitments to environmental stewardship, animal care, innovation and overall getting better at being more productive with fewer resources.”
Sorenson says while much has changed during her career, many other things remain the same
“Some things haven’t changed from my earlier days — we authentically tell our story of what it takes to raise pigs, the values we live by and the efforts we’re making to get better every day,” she says. “Now we have social media to use as a tool — it’s getting easier to get a message out and reach both broader and targeted audiences, but it’s not without challenges.
“We continue to have fewer and fewer peopled tied to agriculture, our audiences have shifted to younger, urban consumers and new generations want different things. We’re challenged to listen intently, understand what people what to know about modern agriculture and find that common ground. I’d say in my 20 years of serving as ag communicator, I have found that whenever farmers tell their story it’s a very positive thing. Sometimes it just takes a little courage.”
Through her work with NPPC, Sorenson is involved with a variety of matters, including policy and trade.
“We need to be able to protect our freedom to operate,” she says. “That’s important to Iowa Select and the state of Iowa, as well as to producers around the country.”
Sorenson says agriculture is an industry that offers opportunities to all with a passion to serve, adding more and more women are becoming involved in pork production and other areas.
“We’re in an industry that is innovative, sustainable and always moving forward — and we feed families, which makes farming essential to our nation,” she says. “We have amazing women throughout all areas of Iowa Select Farms. Women who are leading farms. Here’s a fun fact — our No. 1 sow farm last year (out of 48) is entirely female led. Four of our six swine veterinarians are female, and I can’t think of a single role that a woman couldn’t do.”