Team member spotlight: Connie Hardy

July 3, 2020

We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know our awesome staff members a little bit better through this monthly spotlight Q & A!

Please share your name and job title.

Connie Hardy, program specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Couple seated outdoors with five dogs.
Connie with husband Charlie and their dogs (from left) Greta, Mikey and Hayden (who died in 2019) and the neighbors’ dogs, Barack and Michelle.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Four dogs and two cats get me out of bed in the morning.

How would you describe your job to a child?

My job is full of new challenges each day. It’s sorta like going to school, but it helps to get paid for it.

What is your biggest achievement to date—personal or professional?

Although I don’t think of my life in terms of achievements, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on interesting and valuable scientific projects with people I respect and enjoy. I often tell people that my job usually involves things I don’t know how to do, but I have to figure them out.

Two publications I wrote with Larry Johnson and Phil Baumel in 1999 (about which I felt totally incompetent at the time) have been fairly popular. They are Identifying Valuable Corn Quality Traits for Starch Production and Identifying Valuable Corn Quality Traits for Livestock Feed. These were examples of projects that none of us knew how to do, but we figured them out and we got to work with some very interesting people in the corn business.

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

My day usually begins and ends with dog-walking, with help from my husband, Charlie, and neighbor, Denny. Now that we work from home, it doesn’t take long transition to my ISU job. Currently, I am finishing a price comparison of non-GM and GM corn and soybeans for livestock feed. This will become part of the IFEEDER project about consumer preference for meat from livestock fed with non-GM materials. (lt’s amazing how well-timed the pandemic was to make people think about their food sources.)

I’m also working on online training modules for feed technology. AND our Enterprise Development team is finishing up the Dairy Industry report and a short report on Iowa aquaculture. When I complete my ISU Extension and Outreach day, I usually style hair for 2-3 hours in my hair salon, located at my home. So my work life is totally self-contained at my house for the time being.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Connie Hardy.

Navigating the course for success in a large non-profit organization. It seems that we are defined more by job title and academic degree, and less by true skill and commitment.

I think, too, that the COVID restrictions have placed professional challenges on all of us. However, it is a good time to strengthen professional skills that we didn’t have time to do before COVID.

What three terms would you use to describe your role?

  • Information gatherer and interpreter
  • Communicator
  • Technician

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

Queen Elizabeth. She is fashionable, responsible and cool under pressure.

What do you like most about your job?

The people with whom I work.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Spread the Gospel; use words if you need to.

What’s your favorite blog or website?

I don’t visit blogs. But I do look frequently at the English Springer Rescue America, Inc. homepage.

Given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?

Although she recently passed away at the age of 102 (maybe), I think it would be interesting to be Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne for a day. She was born in Story City and lived an extraordinary life, traveling the world in the military and eventually becoming president of Jacksonville University in Florida. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate degree from Frankfurt University after WWII and the first woman president of a Florida university.

Through her highly adventurous life, she became friends with many people, including US presidents, sports figures and Hollywood celebrities. I might not have the energy to live her whole life, but I think I could make it through a day. Her autobiography is entitled “Iowa Girl: The President Wears a Skirt.”

[Editor’s note: Dr. Kinne died on May 10, 2020, at the age of 102.]

What is your guilty pleasure?

Wine and cheesecake.