Retired Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation employee Devin Cherneski shared a heartfelt goodbye to the West Central region after 30+ years of work.
Cherneski officially moved on to join the team at Sask Municipal Hail Insurance as their Provincial Claims Manager back on June 1, and now being moved on from the area he worked in for many years, the long-time crop insurance provider wanted to give a special shoutout to all of the agriculture producers and stakeholders he helped out over the years in his various roles within the provincial entity.
Cherneski was the Customer Service Manager for Kindersley and Rosetown from 2006 until his retirement from SCIC earlier this year. He worked with SCIC for 33 years total, beginning as a "fearless" summer student at the head office in Melville back in 1990.
Cherneski's last day with SCIC came on May 3. He wanted to thank everyone from over the years as awesome memories and commitment from the team were just as noticeable as the passion for customer service.
The scope of their work wasn't always the prettiest.
"(I remember starting in 1990) working on the administration of the $15-dollar-an-acre crop assistance program at our Head Office during the summer. Thirty years later, unfortunately, we were dealt with the same dry conditions out west, which included thousands of claims and changes to our post-harvest claim processes." shared Cherneski is his exit letter.
It's been another dry stretch these past few years. We asked Cherneski how it compares to the past.
"There have been some years where rain has taken a while to come by. For example, 2009, you know I think it was the third year I was working this area and we didn't get a rain until after July 1."
That year in particular stuck out to Cherneski as they had many producers questioning what the next step would be, and a team of twenty or more had to tackle what was a widespread issue.
Specific areas have stuck out over the years. Cherneski described south of Rosetown to about Kyle as a "hot pocket" region over the past 3-4 years. South of Kindersley to Leader brings the same issue, though the northern portion of the region has always fared a little better according to Cherneski.
"We had 1000s of claims the last couple of years with both offices in Rosetown and Kindersley. That kind of brings back those types of scenarios where those bushels just aren't there compared to normal years, that's for sure."
Not to just focus on the down years, we asked Cherneski about some of the wettest years in his memory bank.
"Definitely 2016-2017. (That year) we had 20-40 inches of moisture throughout this area, and western Saskatchewan."
Rain isn't always a positive.
"It was a tough year that year also, amazing oilseed crops, but the cereal and lentil crops were affected by the moisture for a couple of reasons." said Cherneski as producers couldn't get the crops off with the snow coming, and then issues on the quality side of things created complications as well.
That carried into the next year where producers had to get their crops off by the June 10, 2017, extension of insurance.
"It was kind of a hurry up year. They had to finish harvest and then seed at the same time," laughed Cherneski as he recalled time in the field that year. "There were air seeders behind combines. That really does stick out."
Cherneski has managed to see it all since 2006. Whether it be excessive snow, or rain, or the opposite, "that's the way mother nature sometimes happens in these kinds of things".
Another big moment for Cherneski during his SCIC career came when the office he called home was officially opened.
"2018, when we did the grand opening in the mall that was really exciting. With the Ministry of Agriculture, good memory of having that grand opening and having a newly built facility. It was state of the art for SCIC. I know we are kind of looked at as a template of the 21 offices in Saskatchewan. That's something I want to recognize."
Cherneski worked out of a dual office in Rosetown and Kindersley between 2018 and the time he left. He built great relationships in Kindersley, and even more in Rosetown during the five-year stretch of commuting Highway #7.
Going through the good times, and the bad times with farmers, Cherneski wanted to give this message to his clients/friends from over the years.
"I definitely want to take the opportunity to thank the outstanding customers, stakeholders included in this area. It was just an honour to learn so much from when I started here in 2006, to the (current times) in this industry." Their office was just a small piece of the puzzle at times, but they always tried to let their customer service do the talking, "Customers really appreciated our staff, our leadership, and quality answers when the time came to going over their business risk management and crop insurance."
Cherneski was happy to be there as the insurance person over the years. His new role taking on hail damage means he isn't shifting too far away from what he knows best. Plus, there is a chance to cross paths with people from his past.
His many outstanding customers over the years whether it be across forage, crop, livestock, or anything else really helped Cherneski grow as an employee.
"I'll cherish it for the rest of my working career, and I hope to keep in contact with many of the customers and staff I worked with over the years."