Women in Agriculture: Jennifer Vice
Jennifer Vice has a big job as the Sanderson Farms Corporate Chemist. She is responsible for making sure all the birds under Sanderson Farms’ care are getting the necessary minerals and nutrients they need to grow and be healthy, and that customers are receiving a wholesome product.
She does this by performing a nutritional analysis on each ingredient that goes into the Sanderson Farms feed, as well as the finished feed, to make sure it was made as formulated by the nutritional services staff. Vice also analyzes feed ingredients to make sure no pesticides are present that could make the birds sick.
“We don’t want the birds to get sick because there are pesticides in the feed, in the soil or in their water,” said Vice. “We even do pesticide residue testing on the poultry fat that is sent in by the flock supervisors before the birds are sent to be processed. We go above and beyond in this regard than what is federally required, not only because we want what’s best for the birds, but we want to make sure our customers get a quality product that’s healthy and safe to eat.”
As a military brat growing up, Vice moved around a lot, but when she and her husband decided to start a family and put down roots, Mississippi was the place she called home. The two moved back to Laurel, and Vice began her career at Sanderson Farms as a lab tech. “I have been with the company going on 18 years,” said Vice. “I always tell people, they are going to have to wheel me out in a wheelchair when they want me to go!
“This company means so much to me; it’s literally a household name,” she continued. “My grandfather and grandmother both worked for Sanderson Farms, as well as my uncle and aunt, both of whom retired from the company. My cousins also work for Sanderson Farms, so it’s literally been a part of my family since before I was born. Whenever possible, my mother never bought anything other than Sanderson Farms chicken when I was growing up.”
Vice says she still feels that close family connection when she comes to work every day. “We are all a family. There are many people like me who have worked their entire careers at this company, so when I come to work, it’s like seeing my brothers and sisters every day. Sanderson Farms started as a family company, and I still consider it a family company. They treat each one of us like family.”
A few years ago, Vice began experiencing some very serious medical issues, but says the company has taken good care of her in her time of need. “Not once during that time did I lay in bed and worry about if I was going to have a job to come back to,” explained Vice. “They helped me with my medical bills and offered to fly me to wherever I wanted to seek treatment. They really want us to want to come to work, and they believe the company will prosper alongside each one of us.”
Since starting with the company, Vice says she has seen a change over the years at Sanderson Farms and in the Ag industry, as a whole, to be more inclusive to all walks of life. “There have been great strides made to improve our company culture. We have training classes to teach us to work better together, so we can help make the company succeed. It’s always been part of the organization, but there is more emphasis on it now. We recognize that even though each employee may differ from one another, we all have one common goal in that we want to help keep Sanderson Farms one of the best companies out there, and we want to keep helping our communities.”
Vice says this is especially true for women. “When I first started working here in 2003, there were many women that worked at Sanderson Farms, but most were in more administrative positions. Most upper-level positions were held by men, but as time has progressed, there has been an explosion of women who have been promoted to higher level jobs and hold leadership positions.
“I am proud to work for Sanderson Farms and admire the company and what it stands for,” concluded Vice. “You can’t find a better company.”