Shared on June 8, 2016
About Ron Yoder:
I grew up on a dairy farm and, other than a brief tour into civil engineering during my undergraduate education, have spent my life in agriculture. A professor in my undergraduate program steered me back to agriculture by suggesting I pursue a graduate degree in agricultural engineering — melding my interests in agriculture and engineering. The rest is history. I feel very fortunate to have a career that has allowed me to work closely with students, and to provide useful information for conserving soil and water through agricultural water management.
What is your current position at UNL?
Interim NU Vice President and IANR Vice Chancellor
What drew you to UNL?
Early in my professional career I worked in Torrington, Wyoming, on the border with Nebraska. While living there, my family became very familiar with Nebraska, and UNL, because Scottsbluff was the largest town in the region — our daughter Kristen was born in Scottsbluff. My professional area of work has always been in water management and irrigation engineering, so in 2003 when several colleagues from UNL approached me about applying for the department head position in biological systems engineering, given that Nebraska is a leading agricultural state, the high profile of water management in Nebraska and my previous experience with the state, it was an easy decision.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
The opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. When I taught courses and mentored students, it was gratifying to see students connect the dots — seeing the proverbial lightbulb go on — and to see their confidence grow. For a number of years I co-taught a senior capstone design course in biosystems engineering, and the increase in understanding and confidence that occurred for some students over those two semesters was often amazing — and was very gratifying to watch. As a researcher, it was also gratifying to answer questions through careful experimental design and analysis of the data, and then to make that information available to farmers and resource managers to help them in their work. As department head and associate vice chancellor, and now as interim vice chancellor, the satisfaction comes from being able to identify resources and remove impediments to allow our faculty and staff to do what they do best — teach and mentor our students, do cutting-edge research, and provide information and service to the people of Nebraska.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I will defer that question to others to answer. I gain great satisfaction from being part of the IANR and the University of Nebraska — great organizations, doing great work that makes a difference.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
During summers and breaks in my college years, I set up new machinery and worked the parts counter at a John Deere dealership.
What is your life like away from the office?
I spend my down time with family and taking care of our three acres — the nonedible variety of gardening — and reading, mostly history, biographies and mysteries.