Path to pigs leads engineer to Iowa

AMES — The shortest path between two points may be a straight line, but for Jay Harmon, making the trek from Indiana to Iowa involved much more than a trip on Interstate 80.

Harmon has spent the past 18-plus years as an Extension ag engineer at Iowa State University.

A native of Bunker Hill, Ind., Harmon grew up working on his grandfather’s farm. He also raised pigs, which help fund his education at Purdue University.

“I was Grandpa’s shadow, and I followed him everywhere,” he says. “I really enjoyed raising pigs, and that sort of helped decide my career path.”

After graduating from Purdue in 1984 with a degree in ag engineering, Harmon went to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his master’s degree in 1986.

He eventually earned his PhD at Virginia Tech University in 1989.

Harmon’s first job out of college was in South Carolina, working for Clemson University Extension.

“I was a 100-percent Extension structure specialist, and I started right after Hurricane Hugo wiped out a lot of buildings,” he says. “I got to help a lot of people get going again, and I enjoyed my time in South Carolina.”

But, Harmon says he wanted to work with livestock, especially pigs and knew where he needed to go.

“The position opened up, and I knew I wanted to work with swine,” he says. “What better place to do that than Iowa?”

Harmon started at ISU in December 1993. Currently, his position is 50 percent Extension, 25 percent teaching and 25 percent research.

Read the full article from Iowa Farmer Today.