YOU NEED TO KNOW: John Beasley
BY CALEB HICKS, JUNIOR/AG COMMUNICATIONS
Even as a kid, John Beasley never doubted that, one day, he would be a student on the rolling plains of Dixie.
The Houston County, Alabama native didn’t quite know what his major was going to be, however, until after an inspirational time working on a cattle farm. He chose agriculture. Agriculture at Auburn.
Beasley graduated with a B.S. degree in agronomy and soils in 1979. After spending more than 30 years away from Auburn, he returned in 2013 for his current position as Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences professor and head.
In his spare time away from Ag Hill, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Kathy, and his daughter, Katie, who is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Florida State University.
Beasley also enjoys the sport of quail and duck hunting, watching different sporting events and listening to some of his favorite musical artists—The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles and B.B. King, just to name a few.
What drew you to the College of Agriculture?
The first time I was drawn to the College of Agriculture was when I was growing up in southeast Alabama. My parents had gone to Auburn, and I grew up coming to Auburn football games as a young boy in the early and mid-1960s. My hero was Tucker Fredrickson, the Auburn University All-American. We were an Auburn family, so I knew from an early age I would go to Auburn but was not sure what I would study. I worked on a cattle farm during my junior high and senior high school years. I fell in love with agriculture as a result of spending so much time on that farm. The time spent on that farm made me realize that is the path I wanted to take for my degree, even though my family was not in agriculture. My Dad had graduated from Auburn in pharmacy and owned the local pharmacy in town. I graduated with my B.S. in agronomy and soils in 1979. The second time I was drawn to Auburn was when I was asked to apply for the position of head of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. I was on the faculty at the University of Georgia and was approaching potential retirement. The opportunity to come back to Auburn and serve as department head meant so much to me and was the reason I had been able to have the career I had was too much to pass up, plus the opportunity to work with some great faculty and staff. It has been an unbelievable pleasure being back at Auburn and working with outstanding faculty, staff and students in our department and in the college.
What advice do you have for students looking to attend Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
My first piece of advice is don’t just look at college as a place where you go to class, take exams and then graduate. Get involved! There are so many opportunities in the college experience to participate in—clubs, organizations, internships, study abroad, student worker positions and service activities—that greatly enhance your time as a student. This is especially true in the College of Agriculture. When you reflect back on your time at Auburn many years after graduating, your fondest memories will be the time spent in those activities I mentioned. The second piece of advice I would give is don’t be afraid to talk with and interact with the faculty. They want to help and provide advice and support. It was true in our department and the college when I was a student 40 years ago, and it is just as true today. The advice and support I received as a student was invaluable, and our faculty want you to succeed and will always be willing to help.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The people I get to work with! Our faculty, staff and students in the department, as well as the administration, staff, faculty and students in the college, are outstanding, and I am always excited and proud to proclaim I am a member of the College of Agriculture!
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
As a department head, my role is managing the personnel and budgetary aspects of the department. I spend a lot of time responding to emails and handling paperwork. I also spend a lot of time as a problem solver as issues in the department arise.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition?
I have two. The first is the Auburn Creed. I try to read it as often as I can. If everyone would live their life by the words of the Auburn Creed, this world would be a far greater place. The last statement of the Creed is what I love the most, “And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it,’’ because it summarizes the Auburn Family and our love and passion for our great institution. My second favorite tradition, and the favorite for many Auburn family members, is the eagle flight before football games! No matter how many times I witness the flight, I still get chills watching it.