Seventh in a series highlighting this year’s recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The series will continue each Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to March 2, when the honorees will receive their awards during a 3:30 p.m. convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom.
Del Unger, BS ’84, of Carlisle, Ind. and his wife, Tammi, BS ’84, are owners of Del Unger Farms, consisting of 5,000 acres in southwestern Indiana.
Unger was named Sullivan County’s Outstanding Young Farmer in 1985, the same year Unger Farms hosted 60 Brazilian farmers. He also has hosted the Indiana Farm Management Tour in 1996 and 2011. Unger judges beef competitions in Indiana and Illinois, and serves as the Sullivan County 4-H Beef Project superintendent.
• Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? Two gentlemen had a profound impact on me: Bob Taylor and John Kadlec. These two men had very different approaches to teaching, but both stressed the value and necessity of analyzing business decisions. The economic principles Taylor and Kadlec instilled in us as students have proven invaluable to me in my professional career over the years.
• What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? The chance to recall old memories of my time at Purdue and interact with the current students and faculty. I met Tammi at Purdue, so Purdue is a special place for both of us.
• Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? Both of my parents graduated from Purdue, and it was always my desire to be a Boilermaker from a young age. I felt Purdue had the top people in the field of agriculture, and I wanted to learn from the best.
• Where was your favorite place on campus to study? Being a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, most of our studying was done at our house. We usually went to the basement, which was quiet and you could do laundry at the same time.
• Were you a good student at Purdue? For the most part. I performed very well in my ag classes. That was where my time and energies were devoted.
• What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? CS 140 - Computer Programming. At the time, I did not see the relevance and still do not, though we could have been better served by the basic computer skills that we use today.
• What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? The social interaction with the other students. Also, the fact that my life was a lot less stressful and more carefree, and I was still living on Mom and Dad's money.
• What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue?
Steve Erickson told me that most new and different ideas work if you do. Steve was my counselor and aided greatly in guiding me down my academic pathway. He got to know me and know my interests as a student and as a person. In time, he knew where I was going and what I wanted to do. He encouraged me to take challenging courses outside of my comfort zone, like beef and swine production courses, that provided me with a well-rounded education.
• What is the best advice you ever gave? Education is invaluable. Education doesn't always come solely from the academic arena. Knowledge is priceless, but people skills are essential.
Read about other 2012 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.