Kermit Paris has served as INFB regional manager for District 8 for nearly 37 years, representing Shelby, Decatur, Rush, Franklin, Fayette and Union counties. While more than three decades is plenty of time to be deemed a legend, Kermit prefers to view his career as if he simply ran his portion of a relay race.
“I prefer to think of it as if I were a runner in a relay race. I just did my part while it was my turn,” said Kermit. “I took what I was given from my predecessor, built on that hard work the best I knew how and am now passing the baton to someone else with the confidence that they will succeed.”
But starting July 1, Kermit will enter a much deserved retirement, and regional manager Casie Conley will step in as his replacement on July 3. Casie, who grew up in Henry County and currently serves as District 4 regional manager, says the move is both personally and professionally exciting.
“Personally, I am excited to get back home to my family in Knightstown. Professionally, I plan to build off the strong connections I’ve built in District 8 through my background in 4-H and FFA leadership,” she said.
Kermit and Casie spent much of June together as Paris introduced her to county leadership in the area.
“Kermit has a passion for Farm Bureau. He started in this position in his 20s and devoted much of his life to it,” said Casie. “I’m in my 20s and I want to continue in his footsteps. I want to continue my passion for Farm Bureau, just as he did.”
That passion is clear to many who crossed his path over the years, including INFB Chief Operating Officer Mark Sigler, who worked with Kermit for many years.
“Kermit strongly displayed his passion for our members over his many years of service,” he said. “He fiercely defended our members whenever he had the chance because he truly cares about the success of Indiana agriculture and, more importantly, the people he has come to know and care about in his area.”
Kermit grew up with Farm Bureau and devoted much of his life to the organization.
“My grandparents were charter members in Illinois before moving to Indiana and becoming members. My father joined Indiana Farm Bureau as a member in 1945 and I renew his membership each year. Then I became involved in what was then called Indiana Rural Youth prior to my employment in District 8. Farm Bureau is in my blood so I don't plan to stray far from the organization,” he explained.
One thing that Kermit and Casie have in common is their favorite thing about being an INFB regional manager: working with members.
“The best part of my career has been the time spent with the people I work with every day in the field – our members, clients and staff,” said Kermit. “I have been a part of people’s lives for many years, I have touched theirs and they have touched mine. We have worked together, played together, laughed together and cried together over many years. We are family!”
Casie echoed his sentiments.
““I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about each farm and its operation,” explained Casie. “I’ve gotten to learn about their struggles and successes and been able to walk alongside them as a regional manager. I’m excited to do the same with our members in District 8.”
Casie officially moves into her role as District 8 regional manager on July 3 as Kermit steps into retirement.
As Kermit explains, in track and field coaches strategically place people in a certain order in relay races for the good of the entire team.
“It’s no different in our situation,” concluded Kermit. “I know Casie will take the region to a new level.”
Kermit Paris and Casie Conley pose together at Kermit’s retirement party. Casie is holding a lariat presented to her by Kermit to symbolically help her guide the members of her new district. Photo by Kathleen M. Dutro