AMES, Iowa — The Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) begins the 2012 growing and training session with a new activities coordinator. On March 1, Joshua (Josh) Dunn started as FEEL coordinator with the responsibility of coordinating demonstration plots and scheduling training events at the 43-acre Iowa State University Extension and Outreach facility.
Dunn, an Arkansas native, has a B.S. in botany and an M.S. in agriculture from Arkansas State University, where his research focused on soybean stress avoidance. He has 13 years experience in the industry managing crop stress trials including soybean, rice, and corn breeding and yield trials, conducting regulated testing on transgenic crops and managing environmental stress trials on corn and soybean. The last six years he has lived and worked in Iowa and Missouri.
“Much of my work has been looking at the environmental effects on plants — cotton, rice, soybean and corn,” Dunn said. “Coming to this position at FEEL builds on those experiences and allows me to bring an understanding of the training needs of industry to the position.”
Dunn will work with Iowa State University faculty and researchers that have historically conducted demonstration plots at FEEL and continue the successful programs of the past. Additionally, he plans to expand the training potential by bringing onboard new faculty and researchers and looking at opportunities to work with industry partners to create demonstrations and conduct research that is relevant to Iowa growers.
“I’m looking forward to extension and outreach work — where I can talk about the trials and demonstrations we are conducting and help farmers apply our findings,” said Dunn. “I also enjoy being able to tell my son about the projects at FEEL and am excited to find ways to bring him and other students and 4-H’ers to the facility for field trips.”
While supporting training and demonstration needs of the traditional FEEL audiences — farmers, extension and agri-business agronomists — Dunn plans to use available resources and target new audiences. Some new research and demonstration this year will involve the use of a hail simulator that will allow plant pathologists to evaluate how hail-damaged plants respond to fungicides. These plots also can be used as hail damage demonstration plots — a perfect scenario for training crop hail professionals. Also this year, there will be an ancestral crop demonstration that will provide a historical prospective on the ancestry of current cultivated corn and soybeans looking at how these plants have changed over time with selective breeding.
Dunn anticipates more educational opportunities for farmers and other agriculture professionals as partnerships, such as a scheduled spray school and weed management training with two large agrochemical companies. “These partnerships make it possible to host demonstrations and training clinics using the most modern equipment,” he said.
When Dunn isn’t coordinating events or exploring new opportunities for FEEL, he is at home with his wife and son on their farm raising llamas and goats and taking time to hike and canoe. “Iowa has really become home for us. We love it here,” he said.
PHOTO: Josh Dunn, FEEL Coordinator