When Shelby went to undergrad, she triple-majored in chemistry, forensic science and criminal justice because she was interested in becoming a forensic scientist. While she’s instead pursued a career in agriculture, her role as a chemistry lab technician at the WinField Innovation Center still allows her to do investigations, albeit about how she can develop resources that help farmers thrive. Shelby is also currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in chemistry at the University of Minnesota.
The chemistry lab touches nearly every aspect of the WinField United business, but Shelby primarily works with adjuvants, plant nutrition products and seed treatment projects. This includes improving or creating new products to help farmers combat challenges, reducing costs of end products and identifying options for supply chain flexibility.
Shelby encourages women, and all people in STEM and agriculture, to support each other’s career development.
“If women are able to build their network, I think that's a good starting point. Those are the people who we need to continue to reach out to when we want some career advancement advice,” she says.
Shelby’s professor in analytical chemistry taught her the importance of this. She reflects, “my professor inspired me by the way she taught, the way she explained everything and her enthusiasm for always wanting to grow herself, connect and grow her network. I feel like I've really taken those ideologies into the roles I've had. And she's also a really strong woman in a male dominated area, of course.”
To that end, Shelby recommends employees at Land O’Lakes take advantage of the employee resource groups the company offers. She’s in the Women’s Leadership, Young Professionals and Aging Successfully networks. At the Innovation Center, there’s also a women's book club to offer a way for employees to connect with each other across different departments.