Harmon Named Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension

January 6, 2020, 12:56 pm | Jay Harmon, Barb McBreen

AMES, Iowa — Jay Harmon was named the associate dean for extension and outreach programs and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University on Jan. 1.

Jay Harmon.Harmon has served as interim since April 2017 when John Lawrence was named the interim vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Dr. Harmon is an outstanding, dedicated and thoughtful leader and an excellent person for this position,” said Daniel J. Robison, endowed dean’s chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “He not only understands the important role Extension and Outreach plays in the state’s economic development, and how it is part of the fundamental mission of Iowa State University, but also how it is infused in the culture and work of our faculty, staff and even our students. He’s an expert and we are thrilled to have his leadership.”

Harmon will lead the comprehensive Agriculture and Natural Resources program area of Extension and Outreach for the College and for ISU Extension and Outreach. Robison said he was chosen because of his commitment and engagement to animal agriculture and engineering, but also to every aspect of agriculture and natural resources, from agronomy to economics, from sociology to molecular biology and from water quality to forestry. 

“He will be the key connection for the college with other programs in extension, all across the state, and on campus,” Robison said.

Lawrence, Iowa State University vice president for extension and outreach, said Harmon has the expertise and experience for this position.

“Jay is a humble leader who will do well in this position,” Lawrence said. “He’s worked with Iowans in several roles since he came to Iowa State and his leadership has helped ISU Extension and Outreach enhance connections between faculty, staff and students and Iowa’s farmers, agribusinesses, land owners and rural communities.”

Harmon, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, joined ISU’s agricultural and biosystems engineering faculty in 1993.

His extension duties have focused on improving profitability and sustainability through a systems approach to livestock housing, and management of ventilation, cooling and heating systems for swine housing. He has advised more than 200 producers on making the best decisions on siting new swine facilities by running an ISU-developed odor assessment model and has conducted over 150 ventilation workshops for swine producers throughout the state since the program began in 2001. He leads the Agricultural Systems and Environmental Stewardship Extension Plan of Work team and, from 2014 to 2015, he served as interim director of ISU’s Iowa Pork Industry Center.

Harmon has taught courses on subjects that include agricultural engineering design, swine environmental management, ventilation of agricultural facilities and wood structural design. He also conducts applied research on efficient and sustainable swine production systems.

Harmon is the professor-in-charge of the Midwest Plan Service at Iowa State, which produces agricultural engineering publications and materials in collaboration with 12 Midwestern universities. In 2015, he was nationally recognized as the recipient of the G.B. Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award for exemplary service to animal production systems from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASABE and a registered professional engineer.

Harmon earned his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, his master’s at University of Minnesota and his doctorate at Virginia Tech, all in agricultural engineering.

About Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences administers the Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program. The ANR Extension program provides unbiased, research-based information and education to farmers, agricultural professionals, businesses, communities and consumers to grow the economic base of Iowa agriculture. The program includes 55 on-campus faculty in 10 departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one department in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and 41 field specialists across Iowa providing expertise to Iowans in agricultural systems and environmental stewardship, crops, dairy, farm management, food safety, horticulture, all aspects of agriculture, local foods, natural resources, poultry, equine, rural sociology and value-added agriculture.

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