How One High School Teacher Transitioned to a Future in Insurance with Farm Bureau

May 07, 2024

Kelly Stephens of Fredonia, Kansas, was a high school agricultural education teacher who loved her students. But she wanted to have more control over her work, her experiences and her income. In 2022, she made the switch from teaching to Farm Bureau, and she hasn’t looked back. Here’s her story. 

Why Did You Want to Make a Job Change?

I was looking for a change of pace and an opportunity where I had more control, but I still had the flexibility to make it to my kids’ activities. I’m a single mom to three teenagers, and they’re all very involved in their schools. I didn’t want to start over again with no vacation time, sick time or flexibility. I wasn’t willing to give up the last two or three years with my kids and their activities. With Farm Bureau, I run my own business. 

How Did You Get Started With Farm Bureau?

I was on my county’s Farm Bureau Board, and my family has had Farm Bureau insurance all our lives. The service and education that Farm Bureau encompasses is very important to me. It’s one of the reasons I became an ag teacher, and I want to stay involved in agriculture. I found out about the opportunity by being involved in Farm Bureau at the county level. I had to give up my board position, but now I’m involved in a different way.

I started from scratch, and it was a whirlwind. During my last two months as an ag teacher, I was finishing up my master’s degree, studying and taking all of my insurance exams. But it was a goal I had, and I put everything into it. I made the conscious decision that it was a job change, not just something I was trying out. I went in with that mindset and that determination.

Working as an agent is not one of those things you do for a couple of months, and you get the hang of it. It was a year before I wasn’t on the phone with underwriting, my manager or my trainer. But all those extra resources are part of what I enjoy so much about working with Farm Bureau. 

How Has Becoming an Agent Impacted You?

Being an agent gave me the lifestyle I wanted for my family. The more you work, the more successful you are and the more potential you have to earn a higher income. It’s not just about the money, but I made twice as much in my first five months as an agent as I did the whole prior year as a teacher.

My three teenagers are all driving, and they’re in three sports apiece, FFA and youth group. They’re constantly going. It’s not cheap. I would have been in a whole different financial situation if I had remained in teaching just because of the way the economy has been.   

How Did Teaching Prepare You for Your Role as an Agent?

I love education, and I’m constantly learning. Things are always changing in insurance, and I thrive in that environment.

When people come in with questions, I can explain things to them. I focus on educating my clients on what insurance is, why they need it and how much they need. I learn what they expect from me and what will help protect them.

Not everyone learns the same way, and having a teaching background, I can tell if someone’s confused or doesn’t understand. I can ask how they interpret it, explain it, and if they have more questions, explain it in a different way. It’s just like in education — you talk to each person in a way they’re going to understand. The education piece is what I love about this job.  

What Advice Would You Give to Someone Thinking About Transitioning from Teaching to Insurance?

Put in the effort and do the work. You’re going back to school to get your licenses, and it’s hard. It takes time and commitment. See it through to the end and know it’s going to get tough.

Once you start the job, you’ll have an amazing group of support staff — trainers, managers and underwriters. Don’t be afraid to reach out with an email or a phone call. Don’t feel as though you’re bothering someone or you have to figure it out yourself. Call somebody — that’s what they’re there for. 

What’s a Typical Day Like for You?

I like to start my day early. I don’t want to be walking in the door at 8:00 for an 8:00 appointment. I turn on my lights and computer, get something to drink and spend about 30 minutes focusing on anything I need to finish from the day before or check on.

After that, every day is different. That’s another thing that keeps me going. There are days when I’m in the office for eight hours, meeting with clients, answering phone calls and returning emails. And there are days when I’m out on a farm, taking pictures or talking to a potential client.

I do a lot of community service, so I’m out in the area. Friday lunches are with Rotary in the hospital basement, for example.

And one thing that is consistent is that I can block my schedule out anytime and go anywhere I need for my family. 

What Do You Like to Do Outside of Work?

Anything my kids are doing. I spend a lot of time at basketball courts, volleyball courts, football fields and softball and baseball fields. I really enjoy being with my family and soaking up the last amount of time that I have with them — my twin daughters will be seniors next year, so we’re gearing up for their last school year.

Take the Next Step

If, like Kelly, you’re ready to make a change, consider a future with Farm Bureau. Reach out to learn more today.