Jeri is a California transplant, moving here with her husband just one year into their 38 year marriage. Before coming to Oregon, Jeri attended San Diego State University with the intent of becoming a medical lab technician. "Funny how you can end up with a career so different than what you first thought," recounts Jeri.
Her banking career began as many do in the industry, as a teller. She started at Western Bank in Ashland and, at a young age, became a retail branch manager. Years later she took on the position of operations officer at the bank's largest branch, which opened new doors for Jeri. She eventually became the regional service officer for the bank's southern territory, covering 15 branches. When People's Bank of Commerce was established in 1998, the founders, Mike Sickels and Ken Trautman, wanted Jeri on board. She obliged and joined as the bank's cashier and secretary. She was later promoted to her current position as chief operating officer.
Banking is a career where Jeri feels she can make a real difference in people's lives. "It's helping others to become better than they are today," states Jeri. "It's helping business customers become more successful; its helping young families reach their dreams of buying their first homes; it's coaching staff and providing opportunities so they can reach their career goals."
Jeri fondly recounts People's Bank of Commerce's 15th anniversary when staff and customers were invited to an open house. The event was well attended by business people and branch customers. "I recall looking over the room and feeling a sense of pride. It came from the realization that the years of hard work building a bank for all involved - from the board room to frontline staff - collectively played a part in helping those attend succeed. This is why I enjoy being a banker."
The reward and pride Jeri gleans from being a banker, from making a difference, is the same motivation that drives her and what she is able to accomplish at Pheasant Fields Farm. Jeri and her husband envisioned a place where they could share their farming experience and products directly with the consumer. They have achieved that and so much more.
Through their annual Harvest Festival, Pheasant Fields Farm be comes a true destination for agritainment. Each weekend in October, the farm is open to the public for a myriad of activities including a corn maze and pumpkin patch, hayrides, a cow train, face painting, a pear shooting gallery, live music - the list goes on. The farm also boasts a country store and kitchen. The kitchen's signature product, homemade caramel apples, sells out by midday, despite the fact that Jeri makes anywhere from 80 to 100 each morning.
Pheasant Fields Farm also serves as an education tool for area youth. During weekdays in October, the farm hosts field trips for schools and other organizations. Each year, over 4,500 students and parents receive agricultural lessons based on real-life examples from the farm.
The Harvest Festival is the most popular draw to the farm, but that may be changing. Four years ago, with the prodding of guests, Jeri began offering the farm as a wedding venue . She learned early in her banking career to capitalize on opportunity when it knocks on your door. Today, Pheasant Fields Farm is one of the premier wedding venues in the Rogue Valley. The farm also hosts farm-to-fork dinners and corporate events, making use of their magnificent 100- year-old pole barn and beautiful vistas.
For Jeri, the farm is more than a hobby or a job. It's about helping people build family traditions and make lasting memories. "I love hosting all the guests on the farm, particularly families out to enjoy each other's company as they wander our corn maze, take a hayride, pick a pumpkin in our patch or just sit under the shade of our 125-year-old walnut trees enjoying pumpkin pie. Seeing grandparents and young families come together to visit the farm year after year brings me back to my roots growing up."
Having a passion outside of banking has created a more balanced lifestyle for Jeri. It gets her out of the office and physically active. She encourages everyone to pursue their passion because, "if you do, you may wonder why you didn't do it sooner ."