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Producing Excellence

Stephanie Wise

Sheffield, IL

Gripp Family Farms

Products: Corn, soybeans and popcorn and farm services; Farm Credit leader

Size of Operation: 2,300 acres

In Business Since: 1880s

Farm Credit Partner: Compeer Financial

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2006

In 2013, 25 year banking veteran Stephanie Wise felt compelled to return to her farming roots. She hung up her business suits, signed up for welding classes, obtained pesticide operator and food sanitation management licenses, and hopped in the cab to learn combine and planter operations. In more ways than one, the transition was an opportunity to grow.

“The family farm and history have always been very important to me,” says Stephanie, a fifth-generation farmer whose ancestors immigrated to north central Illinois from Belgium and Sweden in the late 1800s.She owns 345 acres and says it was important to her to purchase that land to contribute to her family’s farming future.Sixth generation family members, nephew Chase and niece Stephanie, are active FFA members, and Wise says, “I always knew at some point I would be back here, doing what really matters to me.”

Stephanie works at the Gripp family’s farming and farm service operations run by her brother Chad.They grow corn, soybeans and popcorn.They also offer custom farming services, crop protection product sales and application, and together they expanded the offering to include fertilizer products and application.

She and her brother work alongside their father, Robert, who has planted and harvested crops on the farm for 59 seasons. “He has seen it all, from two row planters to GPS technology,” she says. “He has a passion for taking care of each plant. That’s something we both share.”

Last year, Wise started sharing her perspective on life on the prairie on her blog, Across the Prairie. Today she continues to look forward, pursuing interests in specialty grains and local food economies.

Getting back to her roots hasn’t kept Stephanie from being a leader. Two years after returning to production agriculture, Compeer Financial appointed her to serve on its board of directors.

“This is a great opportunity to combine my experience in banking and my passion for agriculture and business,” she has said. “Having a diversity of perspectives is good for any organization and its leaders.”

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