Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell
Lisa Koester’s first exposure to Purdue was as a 9-year-old in a skill competition at Mackey Arena. Visiting the court recently still proved to be Mackey magical for her as she was given the opportunity to shoot some hoops while surrounded by Purdue cheerleaders.
Fifth in a series highlighting this year’s recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The award honors mid-career alumni who have a record of outstanding accomplishments, have made significant contributions to their profession or society and have exhibited high potential for professional growth. The series will continue each weekday leading up to March 1, when the nine honorees will receive their awards during a 3:30 pm. EST convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom. A 2:30 p.m. reception, open to the public, will precede the convocation.
Lisa Koester, BS ’94, is an implementation leader/moderator for Beck Ag and part-owner of Koester Brothers Farms based in Wadesville, Ind.
At Beck Ag, Koester has helped to engage more than 1 million agricultural professionals in customized peer-to-peer and expert-to-peer strategies. Koester works with clients to develop customized marketing solutions that are made to fit the clients’ needs.
“Lisa Koester has given back to Purdue University through her service and leadership,” said her nominator, Joan Fulton, professor and associate department head of Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics. “Lisa is an outstanding citizen of the agricultural community and represents the best of agriculture’s future in Indiana.”
∙ Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? Dr. Larry Bohl, MS ’67, PhD ’71, first encouraged me to add ag economics as my major. As my counselor, he always had time to sit with me and discuss my future. As I would share my experiences, he fine-tuned my priorities and helped me develop a plan for my professional life balanced with my family life. Dean Jay Akridge was also a big influence. I worked in the center for ag business, and he always had a great attitude and a pleasant smile in the office. I learned the value of treating others with respect and to become a good listener.
∙ What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to meeting the students. I can’t wait to hear their goals and life dreams and share some of my personal life lessons I have learned along the way.
∙ Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? I visited campus several times due to 4-H and FFA. Through these activities, I became more comfortable with campus and also developed a passion to obtain a degree in agriculture. Those experiences made coming to Purdue an obvious choice for me.
∙ Where was your favorite place on campus to study? The Krannert library was a well-kept secret. I had several classes in that building, so it was also handy for me.
∙ What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? The people. Where else can you be with peers of similar interest and advisers and teachers looking out for your best interests? My life has been shaped by the interactions I had with others during those four short years.
∙ Were you a good student when you were at Purdue? I paid for my own education, so getting good grades was important for me to receive scholarships. I was honored to be named the outstanding senior in the College of Agriculture and was asked to give the student speech at commencement. However, looking back, I certainly learned most from the relationships established with others.
∙ What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? What made it so difficult for you? Botany 304. I had more of a rural background, not farm. At times, production agriculture was a foreign language to me. I had to study hard to learn the function of various equipment and tools, etc. Meanwhile, a peer in my class who grew up on a farm would assist me as needed. I’m not sure I pulled my weight in the team calibration contest with him, but I don’t think he minded that much. That helpful student is now my husband.
∙ What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue? Dr. Robert Taylor, MS ’59, PhD ’63 – I’m sure many alumni remember his “I want to have hair” speech! His message was to be happy with what you’ve got and not compare yourself to others. You need to focus on your strengths and be confident to help make a difference in the lives of others. Dr. Taylor certainly has done that for my family. My father, two brothers, husband, sister-in-law and two cousins were all students under Dr. Taylor. He is a true Purdue icon who not only entertained but also significantly improved the quality of our lives.
∙ What is the best advice you have ever given? If you believe, you can achieve. As an adult, I enjoy mentoring children and have seen this advice make a difference for many. I am a firm believer that your mental state can help you dream big and accomplish your goals.
Read about other 2013 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.