Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Sandra Reynolds. Sandra is a Special Agent with the Executive Protection Detail for the Office of the Secretary.
You mentioned you lived in numerous places growing up, could you share a few places? Did you have a favorite place?
My Dad served in the US Air Force, and his career brought us to some great locations. We lived in California, Florida, Germany, New York, Okinawa (Japan) and Virginia. I really loved living in both Germany and Okinawa, because my parents were adventurous; we visited other countries while stationed at these places. My parents would take my brother and I off the beaten path and find the great restaurants and sites that locals would visit.
What inspired you to study Criminology?
I studied Criminology with the intent of going into law enforcement in some capacity. I had always been civic-minded and believed Criminology was a good lead-in to my future career. I thought it was quite an interesting field, as well, with historical studies/theories of causation for certain behaviors.
Since you travel with the Secretary and hear most of his speeches about various agricultural programs, etc., what stands out to you regarding agriculture?
The Secretary has great speeches, and I learn from him all the time! I truly value the programs that USDA help people gain access to nutritious meals, help next generation farmers understand farming in the 21st century, military veteran support, food safety and so much more. What I am constantly reminded of, and it is an easy concept to take for granted, is how far reaching agriculture is; it is not just what we consume on our plates, but it is the clothes we wear, the jobs that are needed, the innovation of machinery and farming concepts needed to adapt to different environments, etc. I truly appreciate the hard work of the people I have met in their various capacities of agriculture.
How do you balance working full-time and being a parent?
I admit it can be a hard balance, but I think like most working parents, we always find a way to make it work. I love my job and I am successful because I am blessed with amazing support from my family. Between help from my mom, and my brother, my daughter can still do the after-school activities she enjoys and always has someone there for her.
I’ve heard from a few folks here at USDA that you saved Secretary Perdue and his team's lives with your quick thinking on a recent trip, could you share with us what happened?
While performing one of my duties as a detail member, there was an accident on a highway that led to a semi tracker-trailer threatening to impact our vehicle as it careened into our lane. I was the driver of the vehicle and was able to accelerate to avoid the semi and other obstacles that were on the highway. I am grateful for the professional training I’ve received and the good Lord’s grace for ensuring our safety that day.
Are you the only female agent within the Executive Protection Detail? If so, how does it feel to be the only female within the group?
Currently, yes, I am the only female agent within the Executive Protection Detail. Most of my career has been positioned in notably male-dominated fields, so this current circumstance is not new. However, I will say to that point, I work with a great team and truly enjoy coming to work. They are my (work) family!
What inspires you?
My daughter with her big heart inspires me! She has so much kindness and does not know a stranger.
When you travel, where do you usually go?
For work, we travel mostly 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia (CONUS); it is pending on the requirements of the Secretary, of course.