Success stories and experts lead agricultural engineer to Iowa State
To hear Dan Huyser tell it, nearly every professional experience he had and every Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and staff person he met guided him to his current position as an Iowa State Extension agricultural engineering program specialist.
"My background is predominantly in the livestock areas, and I worked at the Land O'Lakes Answer Farm near Fort Dodge for almost 11 years. During that time, I met some of their field specialists and was able to shadow them at times," Huyser said. "Their knowledge of the latest technologies and management methods always amazed me, as did their ability to pass on the information to others. I enjoyed hearing their success stories with people they served."
Iowa State faculty members with extension responsibilities also contributed to his positive impression of extension, and it didn't hurt that he earned his bachelor's degree in animal science from Iowa State while working on the farm.
"Leo Timms in dairy provided a wealth of information during an equipment updating process at the Answer Farm, and in doing so gave me insight into the variety of opportunities that Extension provides for people," he said. "Also, I worked for Hongwei Xin helping to set up equipment for some research trials while earning a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from ISU, and really enjoyed the experience of working for the university. I thought it would be a good fit for me to join the extension team."
His 11 years at the Answer Farm allowed him to help in nearly all of the areas, including beef, turkey, veal, swine and horse facilities, test plots, working with manure, feeding and ventilation systems. During various construction and remodeling projects, he increased his knowledge of structures and building practices. Other positions also contributed to his well-rounded background. He worked as a herdsman on a private farm, was a design engineer for a company that build seed corn plants and equipment, and supervised remodeling and maintenance of commercial properties.
But the world of agriculture and extension drew him back to Iowa State.
"I started work at the Borlaug Learning Center near Nashua on May 28 and it's been good to hear the positive comments on having an ag engineer in the area again," Huyser said. "Part of my goal is to let everyone know that we're open to new ideas on programs and subject matter that people would benefit from. Besides what I can offer, there are many field specialists as well as some very good people on campus who can come and speak on a specific subject."
He said that his wide-ranging experience on several farms has given him a good perspective in his new role as ag engineering program specialist.
"Working on different farms, I know there are different ways to do the same thing, whether it was manure handling, feeding or whatever. I've learned that every farm is different so a person has to be willing to investigate all possibilities and try to look at things from different angles to get the best ideas," Huyser said. "Working around livestock research specifically, I've learned to keep an open mind and realize that things change quickly."
"For example, while I was on campus my first week, Jay Harmon gave me a tour of the Iowa State swine farms. There are a lot of projects going on that will benefit producers in the future and I look forward to being a part of seeing this research being applied in the future," he said. "I want to help people get the information they need as soon as I can. That's what makes ISU Extension a great resource."