Those in the agriculture community have begun to familiarize themselves with a new face in a high-profile role.
That is Amy Cope, who took over last Monday as county extension director with the University of Illinois Extension, succeeding Pam Jacobs.
“Things are going very well,” Cope told the Republic-Times on Friday. “I’m learning a lot and meeting many staff members throughout the three counties.”
Cope, a Monroe County native who lives in rural Waterloo and whose maiden name is Wild, has a bachelor’s in agricultural business and a master’s in organizational communication from Murray State University.
After getting that latter degree in December 2002, Cope worked for about 10 years with Lincoln Farm Business Farm Management in Litchfield.
Prior to that, she worked in banking.
At FBFM, Cope’s job included working on topics like farm analytics, farm accounting and tax and estate planning.
In 2014, she moved back to Waterloo and took a job with Bunge North America, a food and commodity company in St. Louis.
She spent the next four years there before moving to work at Monsanto/Bayer focused in the business intelligence area.
Cope learned of Jacobs’ retirement through her involvement with the extension.
After being active in 4-H during childhood, Cope serves as a 4-H leader in Monroe County.
She is also on the Extension Council, which serves as a sounding board and advisory body for the extension.
She said she was curious about the extension director position because she wanted to work more personally with people like she did at FBFM.
“It was a great experience to go to corporate America and I will forever value the experience and people I met along the way, but I really wanted to get back to being closer to the people in local communities again,” she said. “Closer to home, obviously, is also good. My kids are here in the school systems.”
Cope, grew up on working on a farm and being active in 4-H, 4-H Federation and FFA, also said she wants to support the community and staff at the extension offices of St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties to enable the same opportunities for today’s youth and businesses.
So, she applied for the job. After an interview and hour-long presentation to the hiring committee, she got the position.
Cope said all her experience will help her in this new role.
“I feel like I bring a good mix of skill sets from my experience with FBFM, the banking industry and the corporate environment really brings a different perspective,” she said.
Those skills include budgeting, analysis, cash flow, working with a diverse group of people, bookkeeping, business analytics and intelligence work and experience working with government agencies.
She said her experience on the council will also serve her well.
“I was definitely more familiar with the financial background and some of the staff here because of that opportunity,” she noted.
As she continues getting to know those staff members and the job as a whole, Cope said she has a few goals.
“I want to continue the great programming that has been in the communities, expand communication efforts to the local members of the community, explore new programming opportunities in different areas of focus,” she explained. “Some of the ideas I have is how we can better support our local businesses? Are there other things we can do to support our school systems? I really want to focus on what we can do to support what the people need and want, while balancing it with the University of Illinois’ guiding principles.”