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Source: Buena Vista University news release

Storm Lake, IA - Buena Vista University has hired a new Director for its Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management, plus an Assistant Professor of Agronomy, in helping to round out its team serving a growing base of students involved in agricultural majors.

Rich Crow will become the Director of the Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management at BVU in June, coming from Morningside College, where he's served as Assistant Professor of Agronomy.

Dr. Geoffrey Ecker will serve as BVU Assistant Professor of Agronomy, coming from Arkansas Tech.

Together, Crow and Ecker join Landon Sullivan, Instructor of Animal Science, and Dr. Benjamin Maas, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Geology, among others, in serving a burgeoning group of students enrolled in three ag majors and other related academic and co-curricular programs.

"This is an exciting time for our growing initiative, the Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management," says BVU President Joshua Merchant. "I'm incredibly pleased to have Rich Crow and Geoffrey Ecker joining our enthusiastic and dedicated core of faculty members engaged in research and the practical application of concepts that remain at the very heart of feeding our world while growing farms and communities across the Midwest."

"BVU is located in the heart of one of the most productive Ag regions of the world," says Crow, "I love the idea of being in a community where you can literally be immersed in agricultural business, production, and processing mere minutes from campus. This University is an ideal place to investigate, study, and to practice how we nourish a growing world population."

Crow, who possesses ag degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, helped develop agricultural programming at Kirkwood Community College, which recently partnered with BVU in offering bachelor's degrees in ag-related fields. In his seven years at Morningside, Crow has visited dozens of FFA chapters and school districts across Northwest Iowa to conduct drone clinics and agronomy programs while judging youth proficiency contests and more.

"I helped design a two-year agronomy program at Kirkwood," says Crow, who has visited educational and agricultural operations in Russia, Vietnam, Japan, and Brazil. "I helped build the ag program at Morningside and now will help continue to sustain the momentum in building BVU's Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management. Building programs and getting young people introduced into all that agriculture has to offer really excites me."

Ecker, an Assistant Professor of Biology at Arkansas Tech University, will serve as the agronomist at BVU, working hand-in-hand with Sullivan and Maas, experts in the livestock and environmental arenas, respectively.

"Iowa produces more corn, more soybeans, more hogs, more eggs, and is fourth in beef cattle production," says Sullivan. "We live in THE state when it comes to ag production. It is wonderful to have incredible support from our administration and producers within the local community."

Ecker already has plans to use a tract of Buena Vista County ag land for a field trial underwritten in part through a grant from USDA-CIG (Conservation Innovation Grants) to NutrientStar, a firm Ecker has worked with in research for four years.

"We are trying to find ways to grow crops more efficiently and save the environment at the same time," says Ecker, who earned degrees in biology and political science at Goucher College in Maryland before earning a doctorate in the plant sciences department at the University of Connecticut.

"I was very intentional in earning that double-major as an undergraduate," Ecker says. "I deliberately worked to bring together transgenics and law."

Ecker says BVU's consistent emphasis on forging strong bonds among faculty and students played a role in his acceptance of the position. "As an undergrad, one of the reasons I chose Goucher was because of its size and how faculty members could develop close ties with their students," he says. "Forming that kind of relationship with our students at BVU isn't new to me at all. It's a strength, and my default position as a teacher."

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