San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation

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By Vicky Boyd

Chances are when you've called the San Joaquin Farm Bureau during the past 23 years, you've heard, "Farm Bureau, this is Kathy, may I help you?"

The person behind the voice, office manager Kathy Baldauf, will retire June 30. "I just want to thank everyone who put up with me for 23 years," she said, laughing. "Thank you for sharing all of your gifts. There have been some hard times, but there were great times as well. And thank you to all of the volunteers who spent countless hours supporting ag."

What Baldauf said she'll miss most are the people and the volunteers with whom she's interacted over the years. A Lodi resident, Baldauf came to the SJFB in 1994 after spending two years working for Cal Farm Insurance across the hallway of the Stockton Ad Art Road building. At the time, she only planned to stay a couple of years.

"But then I got to know the people and their passion for farming, and I was just very impressed. So I decided to stay longer, and here we are, 23 years later."

Come the end of June, Baldauf said her priority will be spending more time with friends and family. Her grown son, Adrian Baldauf, and daughter, Raina Galvan, live in the Lodi area. She has one grandson, who also lives nearby. In addition, Baldauf wants to devote more time to music, which includes playing piano and singing in the Lodi First United Methodist Church's choir. She also might consider mission work, should an opportunity arise.  During her tenure, Baldauf worked with 11 SJFB presidents, 18 employees, four executive directors and two bookkeepers, some of whom are still involved with Farm Bureau.

Mike Henry hired Baldauf when he was SJFB executive director in the 1990s.

"She brought a commitment that she wanted to provide service to Farm Bureau members, and that's important in the position she has maintained," Henry said. "Prior to Farm Bureau, she was a secretary for the Cal Farm Insurance office in the building, so she already knew some of the members when she moved across the hall to Farm Bureau. Those relationships just continued to grow."

Bruce Blodgett, current SJFB executive director, first met Baldauf in 1991 when she worked for Cal Farm Insurance. He began working with her in 2005 when he came on board as executive director.

"She's seen a lot, but the one constant you could always rely on is she was the first person you'd talk to," Blodgett said. "She was also the one who called the board members and the officers. I think people are going to miss hearing that voice."

Over the years, Blodgett said he'd come to rely on Baldauf to keep things running smoothly.

"She did it with such a great attitude and great work ethic," he said. "You never had to wonder whether something would get done, and she rarely missed a day. She kept all of us on task."

Not only that, but her institutional knowledge of Farm Bureau will be missed, Blodgett said. Henry agreed, adding that Baldauf always had a "can do" approach.

"She's been committed, and I think the organization benefited from that commitment," he said. A job description and a help wanted ad for the position are in the works.