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Kay Lynn McLaughlin serves as Plains Land Bank’s CEO and has worked with the company for the last 14 years, starting as a loan officer and working her way up to where she is today. Heather Ward, who works closely with Kay Lynn as a Public Relations Specialist, summed up Kay Lynn’s leadership style best. “She is willing to get in the trenches with loan officers and customers,” said Heather.

Ag Roots that Run Deep

Born and raised in the small farming community of Groom, TX, agriculture has been an integral part of Kay Lynn’s life. She would say it is her life. “I grew up in agriculture. I’ve been around agriculture my entire life. I can’t think of anything more important than being involved in something that provides food, fiber, and fuel to the world. It is the national security of the world. And I think people often forget about that.”

For Kay Lynn, the agricultural industry is also about helping people establish and continue their legacy. And it is something she has experienced first-hand. Her husband, Scott McLaughlin, is a first-generation farmer. In 2001, they bought their first farm, financing it through Plains Land Bank. Their loan officer, Steve Donnell, walked them through the process, and that was the start of a friendship that continues to this day. Steve now serves as PLB’s Regional President.

Starting From Scratch

Kay Lynn has been by her husband’s side, helping with the farm since the beginning. To this day, her Saturdays start with jumping into a cake pickup to feed cattle, and she still handles the books. While it may be a steady operation now, it did not start that way. “It took everything we had to get that farm started. Literally.”

Kay Lynn’s experience starting from scratch goes beyond farming and translates to her career. Directly out of college, she began as a loan processor for a commercial bank in the mortgage lending division. She admitted how frustrating it was to have a degree and yet have to start in an entry-level position. But she would tell others not to fear that.

“Starting in an entry-level position gives you the exposure that you need to begin building a wealth of knowledge. I’ve had every job within this association. I started in mortgage at the very bottom, and I had a degree, and that gave me the foundation to know what I know today. I know the building blocks that it takes to get to where we are today. Every little nuance, every little intricacy—I wouldn’t know that had I not started processing loans.” Kay Lynn believes starting with the basics gave her the foundation for where she is today.

Plowing Past Stereotypes

While March 8th marks International Women’s Day, what Kay Lynn wants is far from accolades for her achievements. Instead, she wants to encourage people in ag to move past stereotypes that have prevented women from pursuing a career in the industry.

“…I’m probably a minority in agriculture because I am a woman in agriculture. But at the same time, I never want to be seen that way. I just want to be seen that I am a person in agriculture. I put my pants on the way every other farmer does, and that’s how I want to be seen.”

Having supported her family’s farming operation for years, Kay Lynn acknowledges that historically, women like herself have been actively involved in agricultural production as spouses of farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners.

Yet, the dynamics of women in ag have changed, as have women’s roles. Kay Lynn says that now, the opportunity for women to lead these operations is growing. “It’s primarily a man-dominated industry, and it’s just hard to break out of those stereotypes. But it’s happening every day, and it’s very empowering.”

And for women who have the desire to pursue ag as a career, Kay Lynn is ready to champion their efforts. She encourages those women to not be afraid but to follow their passion, purpose, and heart—just like her.

Plains Land Bank is her passion. She cares for each customer who walks in the door. That’s why she fearlessly leads the charge. She is committed to helping men and women grow legacies. And this woman really gets it. After all, her family’s legacy began with a small farm outside of Amarillo, TX, financed through Plains Land Bank.

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