Snake River Produce’s Tiffany Cruickshank, who celebrates her birthday on Jan. 29, is an ambitious Millennial who with her husband, Chad, has set goals and is working hard to attain them.
She is also proud of her rural heritage and the traditions that have been handed through her family for generations. Chad, too, is part of a multi-generational Treasure Valley family, and their toddler daughter, MacKenzie Leigh, carries the lineage forward.
Tiffany began her career in onions in 2008 not long after graduating from the University of Oregon at Eugene with a degree in marketing and economics. (Go Ducks!) She started with Fort Boise Produce outside of Parma, ID, working in sales there through the 2008-09 shipping season. During the 2009-10 school year, Tiffany taught business at Nyssa High School in Nyssa, OR, but in 2010 she returned to onions after receiving a phone call from Kay Riley at Snake River Produce.
“I had worked with Ken Stewart at Fort Boise,” Tiffany says, adding that when an opening occurred at SRP’s Nyssa office, Ken recommended Tiffany to Riley, who is one of the owners and is also GM of the operation.
“Now I’m transportation manager, sales and marketing assistant, work in safety and, being the youngest in the office, am the one to solve the problem if the computers are down.”
It’s that gene that all Millennials seem to have, as she explains, “We are as a generation very tech savvy. Millennials are constantly engaged, checking emails and communicating through social media. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but it’s definitely a part of my generation. I am updated each morning by theSkimm, which gives me a snapshot of news and trends.”
“Technology is also definitely changing the industry,” she says, pointing out the multi-multi-tasking that’s possible with smartphones.
“When I first started in the onion industry, my phone was a flip model.” It seems like light years ago.
At the shed level, more automation is put into play each season, with minimum wage and labor issues helping to drive that trend.
“But we also want to be better, faster, more efficient at what we do. In the fields, more and more growers are using drip irrigation,” she says, noting that technology extends to every facet of onions.
And as she keeps pace with tech advancements, Tiffany also stays in touch with the basics of what’s going on outside.
SRP, a grower-owned shipper, has reds, whites, yellows and sweets, direct planting each year’s crop in the spring and harvesting in August.
Plans for the upcoming crop are in line with SRP’s longstanding goals: “We’re focused on making sure we’re growing a good quality crop, working with researchers, seed companies,” she says.
Her love for her work is evident, and Tiffany says that’s actually a common thread in her generation.
“Millennials in the workforce are not necessarily driven by money. We want a good life balance. For instance, here at SRP I was allowed to bring my child to work for the first five months after she was born.”
Active in industry-related pursuits, Tiffany is also involved in philanthropic endeavors as well. She is vice president of the Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association and will move into the president’s role at the close of the 2016 convention.
“I will be the first female president of the association to oversee a convention, which I will do in 2017,” she said. And outside of the universe of onions, Tiffany is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and PEO, Philanthropic Education Organization.
“I volunteer with Future Farmers of America as well,” she said.
So any buzz about “entitled” Millennials is something she takes with a grain of salt.
“I went to a session at the 2015 PMA Fresh Summit that had to do with different generations, and Millennials were described as entitled – that everyone gets a trophy just for participating. That’s not how I was raised and not how a lot of us were raised. In fact, the downturn in the economy has shaped us. We are an educated generation, and we use technology, but we work hard.”
Working toward something is part of Tiffany and Chad’s lifestyle, and the couple are building a home this year, still out in the country where they love to be and where they enjoy their favorite pastimes of hunting, fishing, riding and roping.
And when asked where she sees herself in five years, Tiffany Cruickshank doesn’t hesitate a moment before saying, “I plan on being right here.”
View a cool two-minute video/slideshow featuring Tiffany Cruickshank. Formatted for mobile devices-click to view full screen.
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