When it comes to the many roles Terry Lindley occupies in the agricultural industry in Sonoma County, there are few that match his commitment and involvement in our community. His genuine willingness to lend a helping hand to any farmer, rancher, or grower in Sonoma County shines through no matter the circumstance.
After retiring from a 40- year career at American AgCredit, a business that provides loans and other financial services to agricultural and rural customers, Terry shows no signs of slowing down. As an active member of our community, Terry sits on the Board of Trustees for Santa Rosa Junior College, the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, and the Sonoma County Fair Foundation Board. Lindley balances his dedicated service to Sonoma County with the cattle business that he owns and operates, Lindley Cattle Co.
Terry is well known in Sonoma County because of the legacy he created at American Ag Credit. In 1977, Terry was hired as a loan officer and appraiser. Despite not having yet completed his college education, Terry demonstrated himself to be so capable of the job that the college requirements for the position were waived. In the beginning, Terry worked mostly with dairy and livestock ranchers, but that swiftly changed as Sonoma County vineyards and wineries expanded and took the role of the county’s preeminent and most valuable farming effort. After ten years with the company, Terry started the first marketing department in the nation for American Ag Credit. What started as a $35 million company of 8 employees grew to be valued at a $10 billion company that employed dozens in the span of Terry’s career. What was once a hometown farm lending agency became the fifth largest Farm Credit Association in the nation out of 72 highly competitive lending cooperatives. Terry retired as the chief marketing officer and senior vice president of American AgCredit.
As the current president of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Ag Trust, the organization that generates revenue for the college’s Agriculture Department, and a board member for over 25 years, Lindley has had the opportunity to watch the agriculture program flourish. The most remarkable change he has seen in his time spent cultivating the agriculture program would be the diversification of Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College’s 365-acre outdoor learning laboratory for the Agriculture/Natural Resources Department. Lindley has been able to watch the program grow from a small farm to a robust resource for young farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County. Shone farm is one of the largest agriculture sites in the California Community Colleges system. After observing the trends of today’s SRJC agriculture students, Lindley is confident that Sonoma County’s next generation of farmers and ranchers will have a different approach than their parents before them. A huge percentage of our next-generation farmers express a great interest in vegetable and hemp farming. Many other recent graduates from the SRJC Agriculture Department are particularly passionate about organic farming.
To honor Terry’s quarter of a century commitment to the Santa Rosa Junior College, the new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics building on campus will be named the Lindley Center for STEM Education. When completed, the building will be 100,000 square feet, the largest building Santa Rosa Junior College has ever constructed, and will have cost $100 million to build.
As a member of the Sonoma County Fair Foundation Board, Terry has done it all. Terry fronts the efforts to gather sponsors and funding for the fair each year. He has also been tasked with filling the role of Way Master for some years and can always be found shearing FFA and 4-H sheep. Terry is generous with his time and talent when it comes to contributing to the success of the Sonoma County Fair.
Terry keeps busy with his cattle operation, Lindley Cattle Co., where he oversees 300 head of cattle in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. He has a constant doctoring eye on his cattle, which he can often be found hauling from ranch to ranch. Although he doesn’t have to be in the office by eight in the morning anymore, Terry still starts his days early because of his long list of commitments to his business and the many community groups he participates in.
Terry’s accomplishments have been recognized with many awards over the years including SRJC’s President’s Medallion, the Sonoma County Fair’s North Bay Rancher of the Year, and the Harvest Fair’s Friend of Agriculture. He’s also been named Friend of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and recipient of the 4-H Foundation’s Shining Star Award. In 1996 he was named the Marketer of the Year for the National Farm Credit System.
Terry has been a Sonoma County Farm Bureau member for over 25 years. Lindley believes that the Sonoma County Farm Bureau is on the cutting edge of what is happening in agriculture. He appreciates the many areas of agriculture the Farm Bureau advocates for no matter the size of the operation. He is glad to be a part of an organization that is always at the forefront of agriculture and celebrates diversity in the industry.
While working 10 hour days at American Ag Credit, Terry regularly stopped on his way home to shear sheep until the late hours of the night. Terry estimates that he has sheared over 170,000 sheep and counting. Terry said, “I strive to be as diversified as possible in the agricultural community. I have always been willing to put in the extra time to achieve my goals.”
One of Terry’s passions stands out above the rest. Terry is incredibly dedicated to serving agriculture youth and fostering their passion for agriculture. Terry would do anything to contribute to the cultivation of Sonoma County’s next generation of farmers and ranchers. Terry is a constant helping hand to Sonoma County agriculture. Whether it be through the Santa Rosa Junior College Ag Department and Shone Farm or through the Future Farmers of America and 4-H at the Sonoma County Fair, Terry will never fail to show up for our next generation of farmers. We are in good hands under the guidance of Terry Lindley, a man who celebrates diverse farming and ranching practices and advocates whole-heartedly for the future of agriculture in Sonoma County.