S11:E2 Centered On You - Ladies Who Lead & Safety of Our Future

Sep 27, 2023


Show Notes: 

In the first episode of the 11th Field Points series, host Morgan Seger introduces the "Centered on You" video series, a project that celebrates communities through stories of perseverance, passion, and love of the land. Seger's co-host, Aaron Sherman, the Art and Video Director at the Plaid Agency, shares behind-the-scenes insights into the video production process. In this podcast, Morgan and Aaron discuss two videos from the "Centered on You" series. The first video, "Ladies Who Lead," features two sisters running a farm at Melon Acres. The second video, "Safety of the Future," features Nick Meyerrose and Brownsburg Schools. The "Centered on You" series aims to amplify the story of agriculture and share the experiences of those in the industry. Watch the videos at centeredonyou.coop and listen to the full podcast episode here. 



Morgan Seger (00:03): 

Every day we rely on food, fuel, and fiber. But how much do you know about these industries we depend on? In this podcast, we dive deep into the production and processes of these everyday essentials. This is Field Points, an original podcast production from Ceres Solutions. You are listening to the Field Points podcast. I'm your host, Morgan Seger. We're back with another behind the scenes Centered On You episode with Aaron Sherman, the art and video Director at the Plaid Agency. In our last episode of this series, we discussed why Ceres Solutions created the Centered On You video series, starting with a video featuring Jeff Troike and then a legacy farm video featuring the Davies family. Today, Aaron and I will talk through the next two videos that were released in the Centered On You series. The first one, ladies Who Lead featuring two sisters who are running the farm at Melon Acres. 


And then we transitioned to an energy video featuring Nick Meyerrose and Brownsburg Schools back in series seven, episode three that we released in May, 2023. Drew Garson, chief marketing officer at Ceres Solutions shared information on our leading with Intention podcast series about the Amplify Initiative at Ceres Solutions. The Centered On You video campaign is one piece of our goal to amplify the story of agriculture. I encourage you to go to Centered On You coop to see these videos along with other stories of customers throughout the trade territory. Now, here's Aaron to talk about Ladies Who Lead, which is our story on Melon Acres with Whitney Nickless and Autumn Freeman. 

Aaron Sherman (01:47): 

Yeah, so we got to spend some time with the Melon Sisters at Melon Acres, which was a term that we thought that's what they were called. I forget where we heard that reference. And then we even asked 'em during the interviews like, oh yeah, you guys are the Melon sisters. And they were like, we've never heard that. That's really cool. And we were like, oh, okay. I'm glad you like it. But essentially it was surprising how big their operation was flying the drone, getting the drone footage and talking to 'em about how many acres they have and seeing the size of their operation. You're just like, wow, this is really interesting. But yeah, they were super nice and welcoming and it, it's just kind of like, Hey, what do you want to look at today? We'll go do this. And we're like, here, we're want to do this, this, and this. They're like, yeah, sure. Very laid back, super nice people. 

Morgan Seger (02:36): 

If you took time to watch Jeff's video and the Davies video that we talked about in our last episode, you'll notice in Ladies Who Lead the energy of this video is a little bit different. So next, Aaron walks us through the story that we were trying to capture that day, 

Aaron Sherman (02:51): 

Comparing it to the Davies video. There was a lot of heartfelt family connection, and again, that's what this family was giving us. The Melon Sisters, they were cracking jokes the whole time. They were having just a blast with everything, and that was very much their vibe and that's who they are as people. That's kind of how that came out. Our narrative that we wanted to go in there with was Ladies Who Lead, picking out a couple really strong women that are leading in agriculture and kind of hearing their story, maybe asking them some of the challenges that they've experienced being a woman in a predominantly male space. What's that? And it was really interesting to me that when we were asking them those questions, they were essentially like, I don't feel any different than any other person here. I haven't really had a lot of experiences where being a woman has really held me back or got in the way of something, which I thought was really interesting. And I think that's a good example of becoming there with a narrative, but ultimately they're going to tell us their story. I think there was just a few interesting things operationally with the different types of farm setups and all the different products they had. Without getting too technical, they showed us around and showed us everything in the operation, and I hadn't seen a melon farm or an asparagus farm or even the asparagus packaging process. So that was really interesting to me. Learned lots of new stuff that day. 

Morgan Seger (04:17): 

Next Aaron shares with us some of his most memorable moments from that day. 

Aaron Sherman (04:21): 

That one was a tricky one too with the weather, just kind of getting that nailed down. I even remember driving down there for the second time because that was another two shoot day. The weather was predicted to rain, and I was super worried. I was like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do? But we ended up getting down there and the weather kind of opened up. The rain kind of cut off and everything, so that was super nice. We even had one of our interns with us at the time came down for that second shoot, which was really cool. And she was very, it was actually our CEO's niece. She's just a very intelligent young girl, and she was like, oh, hey, can I ask any of you questions? And I was like, yeah, sure, totally. And it was like some of the questions were about being a woman in agriculture and I'm like, honestly, they might be more comfortable hearing from a woman then for me, maybe you just go ahead and ask Open. 


She was just super involved in the process and just loved that. So that was really cool for someone new to see kind of behind the scenes of how these stories get made. So some things that we would've liked to show or dig into a little bit more I think would've been their family history. That's usually a really nice way to kind of kick off or write just after the kickoff of the video to kind of put in a bit about their family history. And we didn't have an opportunity to interview their father. I think he was sick at the time, so I think that would've been really cool to just kind of connect the history back a little bit and tie that, weave that through the narrative. So I think that would've been really fun to add in, but unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity on that 

Morgan Seger (05:50): 

Shoot. Now we're going to play for you the audio from the ladies who lead video featuring Whitney Nickless and Autumn from Melon Acres. 

Melon Acres Video (06:03): 

So as a woman in agriculture, it's been a little challenging, but at the same time it's been absolutely amazing. I love what I do here on the farm. It is primarily a male dominant career, but I don't really feel any different than if my brother is calling someone and talking to them about farming. My name is Whitney Nickless and we are at Melon Acres here in Oaktown, Indiana. We are a third generation farm. It started with my grandpa and my dad and my uncle, and now it is my mom, my dad, myself, my brother, and my sister. When my grandpa decided to farm, we started with 80 acres. Now we grow about a thousand acres of fruits and vegetables that's ranging from asparagus, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet corn, tomatoes, all kinds of goodies. Us kids, we've always been pretty involved in the farm. I remember being 12 out turning bys to set in cantaloupe and watermelon. So I've always had a love for agriculture. It was hard work, but at the same time, it was fun. I got to do it with my family and I loved it. Still do. We both have our own departments now, but at the same time, we know we can call each other if we need help with something no matter what. 


Our theme here at Milli Acres is trusted family quality and pass it on. So whatever happens is we really hope to pass on our values as we keep growing through the years. My advice for women thinking about getting agriculture is just be yourself. Whatever you're passionate about, do it. Don't let anyone stop you from doing it. Even if you're in the minority in agriculture, that's okay. I don't feel any different, and I think the community respects us just as well as my brother or dad. 

Morgan Seger (08:25): 

One of my favorite scenes from this video is when Autumn and Whitney are in their own trucks, but looking at each other from across the way. Again, I encourage you to go to Centered On You dot coop to watch these videos. Now we're going to discuss the behind the scenes action with Nick Meyerrose and Brownsburg Schools. 

Aaron Sherman (08:42): 

This next video with Nick Meyerrose was for Safety of the Future, and it was at the Brownsburg Community Schools Corporation or the Transportation Center, I can't remember the exact vernacular, but essentially went to where all the buses are repaired and serviced and parked and gassed up through the day. And that was a nice kind of lead in with Ceres two because they use their fuel and their lubricants and all of these other materials for the buses and they're very vocal about the benefits of that. So that was another one where Ceres just fit really neatly into the narrative, which was interesting, but a lot shorter of a drive. For me, it was like, I don't know, 30 minutes maybe to get over to Brownsburg. So that was the change of pace. But Nick was super nice and welcoming and I even got to drive a bus that day, which was exciting. 


I always try to push it and see what I can do When I'm at these places, I'm like, so can I drive it or what's the deal? And Nick was like, yeah, here you go. And I was like, wait, are you serious? And then immediately I'm nervous, like I've never driven a bus before. And so our other videographer that was there with us recorded some footage of me driving the bus, and I swear to you, I don't even put my foot on the gas. I'm just letting it coast into the parking spot because I'm terrified that I'm going to have to do a three point turn with this thing and I'm just barely moving. But hey, I still did it. So 

Morgan Seger (10:08): 

At Brownsburg Community Schools, Nick helps over 7,500 students get to and from school every day. Aaron shares how they were able to capture all of the details that go into creating a safe environment for these kids. 

Aaron Sherman (10:23): 

So that was really interesting too, an eyeopening, and I think we got a little bit of information beforehand on the operation just to kind of help us generate the interview questions and everything. But oh my gosh, the technology that's on the buses these days, they know where every bus is at at all times. It's a very, very methodical operation, well-oiled machine, and that was just really interesting to see because I haven't been on a school bus in years. But yeah, it was just kind of interesting to see the technology that the buses have. And I think we were even talking about, I was talking with one of the mechanics that day because really years there, you're talking to people all day, which is so much fun for me. I love that. Well, I was talking to one of the mechanics and they were talking and Nick and they were talking about how some of the buses are going to have cameras on the side of them now for safety in terms of if they have the stop sign out, and then cars are still driving by because obviously we want to be really safe for the kids and everything. 


Some of these buses that are going to be getting fit with cameras on them to where they could send this to the police or whomever to report that. And I'm like, well, that's awesome. That's really interesting. These things are going to be able to fly. Before I know it, 

Morgan Seger (11:36): 

While Aaron is on site, he gets to learn a lot about the customers, but he also shares what he learned about Ceres Solutions, 

Aaron Sherman (11:44): 

Kind of going back to the fuel and the lubricants and the other products that they use. They were very passionate about how it's actually really helped them out. The buses need to be service less. The quality of the gasoline in the winter just really helps out to where the buses run more efficiently and they don't have as many breakdowns, and so that just leads some more savings to the taxpayers in the community. So all in a roundabout way just kind of helps take care of the community, which I thought was really interesting. And we go in, if Ceres comes up and it's really, we always ask about Ceres, but if Ceres comes up and it fits really well into the narrative, then we include it. And it was definitely one of those situations. 

Morgan Seger (12:28): 

In each video, Aaron has to make the hard call on what footage to cut, so he shares what pieces he would've liked to leave but decided to opt out. See, 

Aaron Sherman (12:39): 

There was a lot of more information about just the technology that they were using or some of their operational stuff, which is really interesting. The emotional things I think make a better story. And so although I thought a lot of that stuff was really interesting to learn about, I was like, it's the emotional things. It's like how does it feel to you to provide safe environments for these kids, safe transportation for these children every day? What about you? Or what about your work gets you up in the morning to feel motivated and everything? And I feel like we're able to hit that really well and there's more stuff about the operations that we could have included, but I think it's the emotion that makes these stories the most interesting. 

Morgan Seger (13:21): 

Finally, as we wrap up Aaron Chairs, how he felt leaving that day. 

Aaron Sherman (13:26): 

So this was our first video shoot with just one person that we were interviewing. So I was a little nervous just that we would run out of stuff really quickly because usually you have a couple people. The Davies, it was five Ladies who lead. It was two, and then Safety of our Future was one. So I was a little concerned that we would run out of material, but we ran through interview questions a couple of times, so I felt pretty good there once we got into the editing room and were able to kind of piece everything together, which was nice. Interviewing people outside is always tricky too, because you're dealing with the elements, and this is kind of a tangent, but just a thought. We were on the west side of Indianapolis, and so I didn't think about it, but the airport's right there. And so every 30 seconds during the interview process, there was an airplane flying over and we're just like, have to pause and Oh, hey, well, let's do this interview question again. 


And we ask, and then all of a sudden there's a by plane going over and you're like, okay, we'll just wait. And then you're trying to balance other buses coming in or the sun's starting to creep over and get on his face, and then you're like, have the move around. And it's always a very kind of mishmash process, but that was just really interesting, especially during a really good take. It's really tricky to just say, Hey, I know for a fact this isn't going to be usable because of the environmental sounds that are going right now, so I got you. But sometimes I'll still let 'em talk, so I'm like, maybe I can fix it in post. But most of the time you can't, or it's just really tricky. So it's just kind a nuanced balance of, I think it's not loud enough where I could probably keep some of this, so I don't like to cut 'em off if it's just a little bit, it's like, okay, well, I want to keep you in your flow. You're saying you get in a good flow state with an interview, you're like, I don't want to leave this. We're getting all the good stuff, and they feels really natural and they're just talking to us. They're talking. It doesn't even feel like an interview anymore, but sometimes those are broken up by airplanes. 

Morgan Seger (15:32): 

Now here is the audio from Safety of the Future, the video featuring Nick Meyerrose from Brownsburg Community Schools. 

Nick Meyerrose Video (15:44): 

I want all the students at Brownsburg Schools to feel safe on our buses. As we know, children are our future, so if we do not get them to school, they do not become educated, and so therefore, we have a very important job of getting the students to and from school safely each and every day. My name is Nick, my Rose, and I'm the transportation coordinator for Brownsburg Community Schools. We have 112 buses of Brownsburg and we operate over 140 routes daily. 


My career has always been in education, so prior to being the transportation coordinator here at Brownsburg Schools, I was a teacher. I just have a love for kids, and this is just a way that I can give back to my community to make sure that they get the education they need to be successful adults. Our diesel fuel is designed to run in cold temperatures as well as warmer temperatures. Since we have made the switch to a country mark fluids with Ceres, we're able to prolong the life of our oil changes to save money to our taxpayers, as well as making the buses still safe as they are. We just built our new facility about a year ago. We took driver training into a lot of consideration. We have a training room actually inside our building that we can train new drivers and existing drivers with. 


It reinforces our safety here at Brownsburg, so we want top-notch drivers transporting our kids to and from school safely each day. My staff, my drivers and mechanics, they keep everything up and going. We never want to inconvenience parents by having a late bus or a bus that does not show up. And so we always need to be proactive and make sure that the buses are safe and reliable and that the buses are on time. I love my job. I get up each and every day excited to come to work. Every day is a new adventure, but I just know that I'm servicing all of our students in Brownsburg, getting them to and from school each day so they can learn. It's just a very rewarding occupation. 

Morgan Seger (17:41): 

Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of Field Points. Next week we will continue celebrating the stories of our community by fulfilling this Ceres Promise to be Centered On You. Aaron and I will be back talking about two more pillar videos. One is a story of stewardship, and the other features a dairy farm from New Era Michigan. Again, you can go to Centered On You dot coop to watch these videos and other stories about customers throughout the Ceres Solutions trade territory. The show notes for this episode will be available at Ceres dot c e r e s.coop. If you enjoyed this deeper dive, be sure to subscribe and leave us a review. Your review and feedback. We'll help other listeners like you find our podcast and we are so thankful for that. 

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