INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence announced that Ted McKinney,
currently the director of global and corporate affairs at Elanco, will replace
Gina Sheets as director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture,
effective Jan. 7.
Sheets resigned from the position in order to pursue
missionary and agricultural work with her husband in Liberia.
McKinney appeared elated to begin his new career in public
service. He said there are three reasons why now is the right time for him to
“First of all, it’s my love of history and my desire at some
point in time to be in public service,” he said. “I’ve been able to do that in
an informal capacity with groups like 4-H, AgrIInstitute and FFA, but it seems
like it’s time ... to step in and do that public service.”
The second reason, McKinney said, is that he respects the
current government leaders and would like to work alongside them.
“The third reason is where we are in Indiana agriculture,”
he noted. “I love agriculture. It is my passion. I wake up with a click in my
heels because of this world of agriculture and the opportunity to feed
McKinney got his start in agriculture on his family farm in
Tipton County. His path continued at Purdue University, where he graduated with
a degree in agricultural economics.
As a student, he served as Purdue’s famous mascot, Purdue
Pete, at the same time that Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann was in marching band.
“Ted’s credentials for and love of agriculture are truly
unbounded,” Ellspermann said. “Governor Pence and I could not have found a
stronger agricultural leader, and we greatly appreciate Ted’s willingness to
serve the state of Indiana in this new capacity.”
McKinney has experienced Indiana agriculture at a local
level, as president of his family farm and leader at several Indiana
agribusinesses, and at a global level.
He emphasized the importance of technology in producing
enough food to feed the growing population.
“In these past few years, I’ve had a chance to do a lot of
global traveling,” he said. “So I see Indiana not just as Indiana, which is
great, but Indiana in perspective with what’s going on in China ... with Europe.
We are so poised to break out in so many ways here in Indiana
McKinney played a large role in bringing the National FFA
Conference to Indianapolis and in developing the National FFA Center. He looks
forward to leading FFA while serving as ISDA director.
“I’m doubly pleased that youth development and FFA is a part
(of my job),” he said. “I will not lose, at all, my passion for 4-H. It’s where
I got my start. I’ll not lose my support for AgrIInstitute, who hosted this
wonderful event. But to have FFA be there and to help take it to new heights, I
think is something that will last in our legacy for my kids and my grandkids.”