With the ball gripped tightly in his hand, he was centered atop the pitcher’s mound. The crowd was booming, and the lighting of the field seemed like it was only shining on him. This was the last inning. Justin finally shifted his gaze to meet his opponent, the batter, as a bead of sweat made its way down his forehead. He took a deep, heavy breath, winded up, and released.
Intense moments like that weren’t rare for Justin. At the age of four, he started his baseball career as a pitcher and continued playing up until he graduated from high school. Justin has always had quite the arm for pitching, even throwing a no hitter during his freshman year of high school! He was recruited to play collegiate baseball for Wilmington College, but decided to pursue his academic career instead.
Not only does Justin excel when it comes to the baseball field, but the same holds true for the field of the family farm. Justin grew up in West Central Ohio between Champaign and Clarke counties. A partner with his dad and grandpa, he worked for his family business: Haerr Grain Farms. His duties on the farm included planting, fertilizer blending, fertilizer and grain hauling, and agronomist data management. The Haerr family currently owns 68 hundred acres of land where they harvest beef and crops, such as corn, soybean, and wheat.
His family consists of generational farmers, dating back since the 1840s with his grandpa, and Justin aims to continue the family tradition.
“I grew up on a farm and I plan to go back,” he said.
Justin’s background helped to influence his field of study. Initially debating between Purdue and The Ohio State University, he found that Ohio State’s Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) program suited him best, which he felt combined both agricultural business and agronomy. He is currently on his fourth year at Ohio State pursuing a major in ASM and a minor in Agronomy.
Throughout his years at Ohio State, Justin has been able to apply his agricultural knowledge and gain new experiences at various internships. He had the opportunity to intern with Heritage Cooperative the summer after his freshman year. There, he worked as a crop scout inspecting the company’s crops and evaluating any potential problems of pest and disease control techniques. During the beginning of junior year, Justin was also involved with Precision Agri-Services where he aided in the tearing down and replacing of different parts of a planter.
In addition to his work off campus, Justin is also heavily involved with Ohio State’s ASM Club, where he currently serves as President.
He first joined the organization during its blooming years. Prior to his arrival at Ohio State University, club membership consisted of approximately 12 people. Currently, it has become one of the fastest growing groups on campus with 50+ people attending meetings. Justin correlates club involvement with the growth of the major and with the dedication and hard work of the current organization’s members.
“The group focuses on professional development, recruitment, fundraising, and service,” Justin explained. “For people from rural West Central Ohio, it kinda molds right into what their interests are.”
Being a part of the ASM club, Justin has had the chance to travel a lot. Every year, Precision Planting, the premier innovator of planting technology, holds their annual Winter Conference in Tremont, Illinois. In the same week, right down the street, another leading agriculture company conducts its annual open house, 360 Yield Center, who is known for its specialization in crop nutrient technology.
The ASM club had the amazing opportunity to attend both these conferences. Members were able to meet industry representatives and were introduced to brand new products before anyone else.
“They revolutionize the way farmers plant in the United States,” Justin stated, emphasizing the importance behind the companies. The experience of events like those gave those in the organization exposure to what is changing in production and precision agriculture each year.
Advice he’d give to students who are unsure of where to go or what to do in the future:
“Get involved. Do what you’re interested in and figure out what you’re good at.”
And also, join ASM club.
By Helena Nguyen, FABE Student Administrative Assistant