By Darla Sikora, Citizens State Bank of Loyal
Greetings fellow ag bankers! In this, my final contribution to From the Fields, I’d like to write a bit about us. By “us” I mean the very small percentage of the population who are ag bankers. Each of us has our own story as for how we ended up in ag banking. For myself, I have been an ag banker for 21 years. I am as fervent today as I was when I started at Citizens State Bank of Loyal that I am in this job not because of banking but because of agriculture. In fact, when I was hired, I didn’t know the difference between a balance sheet and a cash flow! “But you know agriculture,” is what my boss at the time (Gary Sipiorski) replied, and as they say, the rest is history.
One of the very best things about attending the WBA Agircultual Bankers Conference every April is being with individuals from around the state who do what we do. Since there are so few of us, we don’t often get to chat with those who know exactly what we face daily in our jobs. We have a connection with our colleagues on account of the common ground we share, facing similar circumstances and challenges, whether in the field or in the bank; the good and the bad. The information presented by a great line-up of speakers and exhibitors is reason enough to attend the conference, but equally, if not even more important, is networking at the conference with our colleagues from other banks.
Beyond that, I have had the added privilege of serving on the WBA Ag Section Board for seven years. That brought even more opportunities to learn from others as we communicated thoughts, ideas, and opinions on any number of topics at our meetings and gatherings. We deal with a lot of big stuff in our jobs. As a customer once said, ag bankers have a degree of control on the “purse strings” of many multi-million-dollar ag businesses throughout the state. It’s no secret that fact alone can bring about many levels of stress. Learning from others who have been in similar situations has been a real godsend. Our team of Wisconsin ag bankers not only is willing to share its wisdom, knowledge and experiences, but it also has the ability to do so with a bigger perspective than we can do as individuals. The sense of humor that often accompanies a conversation is a boon as well!
Of course, I can never say enough about Lori Kalscheuer, WBA director – education and our Ag Section liaison. Kalscheuer and her team are the glue that keeps our Ag Section together, focused and organized! Not only is June Dairy Month, but it’s also the start of a new year of membership in the Ag Section. I hope you find as much value in this group as I do. There is no doubt of its merit in helping us to be the best ag bankers we can be for Wisconsin’s agriculture. Thank you for allowing me to serve on the Ag Section Board. I look forward to reading all the future From the Fields and to seeing all of you, a rare breed as we are, at next year’s WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference!
Sikora is senior vice president of agricultural banking with Citizens State Bank of Loyal. Sikora also previously served as the Past Chair of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors.