One of Miner Institute’s most valuable “products” is our alumni. They move on from Miner Institute to (hopefully) successful careers in agriculture-related fields. They help to broaden Miner Institute’s network and, in some cases, become collaborators for our research and education programs. Several of our Summer Experience in Equine Management alumni have ultimately become Miner Morgan owners! One of the most notable career choices for alumni is Miner Institute employee. Of our roughly 50 full-time employees, 11 are alumni from one of our education programs. It is a strong testament to the culture and atmosphere of Miner as a workplace and also of the caliber of our education programs and thus, the students that we attract.
“I recall the day I got a call from Katie(Ballard), who was looking for someone to fill a technician position. From the moment I heard the message, I had already decided I would take the job. I was ready and eager to come back to Miner in any fashion. When I moved all of my stuff from Pennsylvania, I never would have dreamed that I would still be here today… looking back it was not a case of moving on to the next stage of my life, it was actually more like coming home,” said Heather Gauthier, a research technician and Summer Experience in Equine Management alumnus. Heather has been employed at Miner Institute since 2000.
Katie Ballard has been the director of Miner Institute’s research program since the program started in 1992. She fondly remembers being crowned the first-ever “Miner Moron” as a Summer Experience in Farm Management student in 1983 for putting a tractor in the ditch. From that point on, someone was given the award weekly on Fridays at lunch. Most notably, she recalls that Ev Thomas (then agronomist at Miner Institute) earned a Miner Moron Award for his driving skills on the way to Empire Farm Days that summer. Katie participated in the graduate program following her summer as a student and was hired full time in 1987.
Equine Manager Karen Lassell says that she feels “blessed to enjoy my job as much as I do – the horses, the students and fellow employees.” Karen participated in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program in 1989 and then came back as the year-long intern in 1991 and has been employed at Miner ever since.
“I’ve always felt that whether you are a student or employee, Miner Institute provides many opportunities…you just have to have initiative and be willing to work hard to make the most of your time here,” Katie said. “It’s helpful to take a walk through the Heritage Exhibit every once in a while to become re-inspired by Mr. Miner’s vision for Hearts Delight Farm. I think we are doing a pretty good job and following his planned purpose of the farm.”
Alumni turned employees:
Wanda Emerich: Dairy Outreach Coordinator and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Katie Ballard: Director of Research and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Karen Lassell: Equine Manager and alum of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program.
Heather Gauthier: Research Technician and alum of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program.
Andrew Whitney: Research Technician and alum of the Advanced Dairy Management program.
Jeff Darrah: Agricultural Lab Manager and alum of the cell biology program.
Laura Klaiber: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science program and the graduate program.
Lisa Klaiber: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science program.
Anna Pape: Dairy Herdsperson and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Charlie Hacker: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science Program.
Eric Young: Soil Scientist/Agronomist and alum of the Applied Environmental Science Program.