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ISU Swine Teaching Farm Manager Brings Unique Perspective to Job
Jeff Hartwig grew up in a small town in Iowa. He graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in forestry, and worked with the U.S. Forest Service in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest doing wildland firefighting.
Hartwig has been the manager of the Iowa State University Swine Teaching Farm since October of 2014.
“My swine background is unique in some aspects, but I was interested in this position at Iowa State for several reasons, including the professional challenges it offers,” he said. “And the idea that the main production from our farms is learning and research rather than actual animals is very intriguing to me.”
Hartwig’s first experience with pigs was after graduation when he worked in a farrowing unit on a 2,500-head sow farm with Christensen Farmsin Minnesota. He quickly moved up with the company to become a finishing service manager, and eventually returned to Iowa as a senior field advisor for The Maschhoffs where he worked with their employee-managed system in north central Iowa.
“I started with 12 sites and eight employees, and helped grow that system to 20 sites and 24 employees,” he said. “This experience with managing labor and multiple sites with multiple activities gives me a strong advantage as I’ve started in my new role with the swine farms.Managing labor is always a large part of managing a system and utilizing students at the ISU Swine Farms is a unique challenge.”
Hartwig’s commercial production experience included leadership training opportunities that continue to be valuable tools as he manages people and their personalities.
“Student labor is a vital part of our labor plan and we plan to improve on our biosecurity to better teach students about industry expectations,” he said. “Our facility designs are limiting factors, as is the high number of visitors to our farms, but a good plan to limit risk will always be beneficial.
While facility repair and maintenance remain on the to-do list, Hartwig said one goal is to invest in what’s available to maximize adequate teaching and research opportunities for the university, as well as information and access for the general public.
“I want students, whether or not they’re animal science majors, to know the teaching farm is there for everyone’s benefit,” he said. “The teaching farm has viewing rooms in every barn so visitors can see production practices first-hand without needing to actually be in the barn with the pigs. Upon request we can provide tours to interested parties, and all are welcome to contact me about visiting the teaching farm.”
Hartwig said he’s becoming more comfortable with the pace of the university farm structure, schedule and organization.
“After six months of being in this role, I am starting to feel more familiar with the change of pace from commercial production but I am still working to fully grasp the current utilization of the farms. I think it will take at least an entire year in the role to see everything cycle at least once,” he said. “The two big areas I have been working on and will continue to improve are facility repair and maintenance, and increasing opportunities for farm utilization at each of the swine facilities.
Hartwig also is a proponent of using social media to promote agriculture-based industries, a practice known as “agvocating,”and encourages people to “like” the ISU Swine Teaching Farm’s Facebook page.
This article was written by Sherry Hoyer at the Iowa Pork Industry Center on May 7th, 2015.
Contact: Jeff Hartwig, animal science, 515-290-3742, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, 515-294-4496, email@example.com