Packing a knockout resumé detailing education in ag and marketing studies, impressive work history, and volunteer work both in the industry and the community, Megan Jacobsen stepped into the position of Gills Onions Marketing Manager at the beginning of April.
More accurately, she hit the ground running
At Gills, she said, her role is “leading all marketing/public relations and communications efforts.” And ag, it would seem, is part of her DNA.
“I developed a strong understanding and passion for the agriculture industry at a very young age,” she said. Megan was born and raised in Fresno County on her family’s table/fresh grape, wine grape and raisin farming operation.
“For fresh grapes, my family packed under the label ‘Our Diary’ until the early 2000s, when we transferred our entire operation over to raisin and wine grapes,” she continued.
She pursued an education that reflects her early life, telling us, “I graduated from California State University/Fresno in 2008 with a degree with Agriculture Communications, emphasized in public relations, and also graduated as a President’s Scholar from the Smittcamp Family Honors College.” She describes herself as “a very proud Fresno State agriculture graduate,” and she currently serves on the University’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Leading up to her managerial position at Gills, Megan learned the ins and outs of marketing in several fields.
“I used to work in the fresh produce industry when I was Director of Membership for the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, now California Fresh Fruit Association,” she said. “I loved working in the fresh industry. I believe our sector within agriculture is extra special.”
Her jobs have brought added benefits for her and others. “As someone who is passionate about agriculture education, I enjoy teaching children about what is best for their bodies – healthy fruits and vegetables! Between working for the Association and joining the Gills Onions, the team I did work for Solutions 4Earth, a soil health and environmental science company specialized in soil health. That is where I met Steve Gill.”
She said she and Gill share the “mutual passion for healthy soil and how we grow our food,” as will as a “commitment to sustainability from the time the seed is planted to when it is delivered to our customer.”
In her resumé Megan explained the job of managing the Henderson, NV, company’s marketing, communications and public relations strategies for seven territories covering the U.S. and Latin America. Under her directorship, the department rebuilt the company’s trade show and event strategy; executed marketing development and product launch for numerous fertilizer brands, including certified organic; managed product label regulatory oversight and government regulations along with intellectual property, trademarks, logos and patents for 17 product lines; led the development of a new website and social media campaign; and analyzed and implemented the company’s inaugural customer relationship management system.
And overlapping from 2017 into this year, Megan was also a California dairy specialist, communicating with end user dairy accounts and working with distributor sales reps.
At the California Grape & Tree Fruit League in Fresno, she was membership director and recruited and maintained membership with the state’s top producers. Her job included educating 350 member companies about new and potential regulations. Membership was increased while Megan was there, and the operation’s efficiency was increased as well.
Oh, but there’s more. From 2010 to 2011 Megan was the government affairs and communication manager at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, working with local, state and federal elected officials on multiple issues while also developing internal and external messaging. Additionally, she worked at Cohen Communications from 2008-2010 in Fresno, honing her skills in designing, writing and executing communication programs.
Spare time? Why of course she sits on the Fresno State alumni association and the advisory council of Smittcamp Family Honors College. She sat on the California Young Farmers & Ranchers State Committee, worked on the Fresno County Salvation Army Community Relations Committee, was a member of Business Street Online for Fresno’s “40 Under 40,” is a founding member and former board member of the Fresno Citizens for a Strong Economy, was a board member and secretary of the European Grove Homeowners Association, volunteered and taught at the Well Community Church and missioned in Thailand in 2014.
And she was part of the California FFA Association staff for several years.
With those so many accomplishments met, what does Megan want to bring to the table at Gills?
“I feel I will bring great energy and on-the-farm and soil health experience, as well as a background in advocacy from the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and California Grape & Tree Fruit League,” she said, adding that “Gills Onions and our industry has an amazing story to share!”
Megan continued, “I am looking forward to working alongside our industry veterans at Gills Onions – like Teri Trost, who has been with our team since 2013 – to help further build our fresh-cut onion customer base in the foodservice and retail sectors.”
Onions are a different industry, to be sure, from those she’s been in. What’s one new experience?
“I am only a month into working for Gills Onions, and they continue to make me cry,” she said tongue in cheek. And she added, parenthetically, “Literally every time I have walked into the plant! God bless waterproof mascara!”
But eager to enlarge her tent, Megan said she has “already learned so much about the entire seed-to-package process for fresh-cut onions. Steve Gill is very hands-on with our company and a phenomenal resource for the industry.”
She acknowledged that because she is new to onions, comparing it to other industries is difficult at this point. But she said, “I can say the personal training and mentorship I have received from Steve in these first few weeks have set this experience apart from others. Within a few minutes of talking to Steve, you hear his passion and commitment to producing the best quality and most sustainable fresh-cut onions in the industry. He takes the time to be directly involved with his team, as well as customers.”
She continued, “Actions speak louder than words. His actions show his level of commitment to our company’s success and the product we deliver.”
We asked what she feels is the most challenging part of the produce industry, and Megan said, “Hands down, policies being shaped in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento is the most challenging part of working day in and day out in this industry. As an industry, it is our responsibility to lead by example and not just ‘educate’ but openly communicate back-and-forth with honest dialogue with consumers.”
Moreover, she said, “We must be adaptive to changes. We must be innovative. And we must fight for an industry that is most definitely worth fighting for.”
And the most rewarding part of the industry? We especially like this answer:
“Although I am still young, the most rewarding part of my career has been to be able to look back and reflect on how far we’ve come as an industry. We have taken a few hits, and they’ve stung a little, but together we come out stronger. As I always tell folks, ‘We know more than we did 50 years ago about growing practices, and therefore, we can’t farm as we did back then.’”
Megan said, “I’m proud of the progress our industry has made and the leadership provided within our farming community to allow that progress to take place.”