I grew up on a corn-soybean farm south of Ewing, Nebraska. My family also raised swine until my sophomore year of college. I grew up being active in 4-H showing swine, but involved in several static projects also. My undergraduate degree is from Nebraska Wesleyan University where I majored in biology. I was a typical undergraduate, finishing up my degree with no real direction on what I was going to do with the rest of my life. My advisor Gary Duncan, who was doing research over in the Department of Plant Pathology, informed me that a new faculty member was looking for a temporary summer employee. That faculty member was Loren Giesler, who is the current department chair for the Department of Plant Pathology. At the time, Dr. Giesler was a new Extension specialist working on soybean diseases. I really enjoyed the work and was offered a research assistantship two years later with my research focusing on management strategies for a fairly “new” soybean virus. It was also during this time that I was given the opportunity to dive into Extension teaching. Since then, I have not ventured from UNL but have held different positions including Extension research technologist, coordinator of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic and my current position as a cropping and water educator based in Holt/Boyd Counties. I am blessed to be able to work in the county that I grew up in.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
My position is a cropping and water educator covering the counties of Holt, Boyd, Brown, Rock, Keya Paha and Cherry. Currently, a major focus is on groundwater quality issues in the Bazile Groundwater Management Area. Given the opportunity, I am very happy to discuss plant disease issues and have the pleasure of taking about those “rots and spots” at least monthly on Backyard Farmer.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
Growing up as a very active 4-Her I was very aware what impact Extension educators have on the youth in their county. Thankfully, through my exposure of Extension with Dr. Giesler, I found out Extension was more than 4-H and youth activities. Being able to share my knowledge with youth and adults was my big draw to be a member of Nebraska Extension. I really do enjoy talking “rots and spots” and plants in general with people.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
Learner is one of my top strengths and being able to reinforce that strength on a daily basis definitely helps to refuel my gas tank. We are encouraged to always learn new skills, talents and knowledge to keep our clientele engaged and informed. I am afraid that I would get bored if I couldn’t also be exploring and learning.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is my kids. I met my husband later in life and had really come to terms that I wouldn’t have my own family. My nieces and nephew were my kids at that time. To be blessed to meet my husband and be able to have a family is unbelievable. I wouldn’t know what to do without my energetic tribe of three!
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Something that most people don’t know about me is that I like decorating cakes. It all started with wanting to create fun birthday cakes for my kids. Thankfully my sister-in-law was taking decorating class through Southeast Community College and was able to teach me some tricks. Currently have I made graduation cakes and one wedding cake for friends. My canvas of choice for cake is buttercream - fondant just tastes horrible and you need to enjoy what you create.
What is your life like outside of work?
Being outside whenever possible, whether that is playing with my plants in my garden or flower beds. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and three kids fishing, river running, enjoying the fire pit and hanging out with the cows.