2018 Newsmakers: Heather Couch

Thursday, August 23, 2018
Heather Couch, vice president and branch manager of Farm Credit of Southeast Missouri, talks with her client, Dan Jennings, at his farm in Morehouse, Missouri.
Photograph by Kassi Jackson

Farming in the bootheel of Missouri is big business. Think $1.2 billion annually.

Heather Couch has played a large role in helping make this possible in Scott, New Madrid and Cape Girardeau counties since 2015, when she became the vice president and branch manager of Farm Credit of Southeast Missouri in Sikeston, Missouri. There, she lends money to local farmers, helping them grow rice, cotton, popcorn, corn and beans. To her, it’s not only about lending money; Couch is invested in the relationships she builds with the farmers through her routine visits to check on their crops. During these visits, she often takes them candy bars, waters and bar-be-que.

“They have all this money in this crop and they have to go to bed at night and pray to God the crop produces a good yield,” Couch says of why she loves her job. “There’s so many variables in the risk they go through in this. It’s just going through that with them.”

Couch grew up around agriculture — her family had a farm equipment auction service, and her grandfathers farmed. Couch studied business in college, and although she says she never thought about the business side of farming or about a woman doing a business agriculture job, she enjoys interacting with farmers on a daily basis.

Although she graduated with a business degree, Couch began as a music major, and now she’s finding ways to put that passion to work benefitting her community. Since her daughter was born two and a half years ago, Couch has shifted her focus from working with the Rotary Club — of which she was president from 2008-2009 — to volunteering with the children at her church through the Southeast All-Stars program, where they spend time with students from a local school each week. This past December, she helped put on a Christmas program with the children. She also recently assisted with Vacation Bible School.

All of this, she says, ties together by allowing her to be a “real person” with her customers.

“Our customers, they truly give back, and they’re very well-respected in the community,” Couch says. “I go to a church with several of our customers. It’s neat to see your customers not just on the farm, but to see them in real life, and you’re sharing life with them.”