Dr. Julie Weathers, associate professor of agriculture at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named chair of the University’s Department of Agriculture, making her the first woman to hold this post and one of the few female agriculture department chairs in Missouri.
She replaces Dr. Mike Aide who stepped down as chair of the department effective March 17.
Weathers is in her sixth year in the Department of Agriculture, where she has served as the animal scientist, teaching coursework focused on cattle, hogs and sheep. Her leadership roles have included working with the beef herd and providing outreach to the beef producers of southeast Missouri. She recently was awarded membership in Missouri’s Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow. Weathers comes by the profession naturally as the daughter of an agricultural sciences teacher in a lineage of educators and having been raised on a small, family farm in Texas.
She holds doctoral and master’s degrees in animal science with a focus on reproductive physiology, both from Texas Tech University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science with honors from Texas Tech University, where she also served as a teaching assistant and research assistant.
She came to Southeast in 2010 as an assistant professor, where her research has focused on cattle reproduction and genetics, and improving minority success in agribusiness leadership. She says Southeast’s agriculture program has grown tremendously in the past few years, not just in animal science but agribusiness in general. Agriculture students can pursue agribusiness options in animal science, horticulture, plant and soil science, and agriculture industry. Students also can major in agricultural education and pre-veterinary medicine.
“Agribusiness is a growing field, and it’s becoming more technologically advanced,” she said. “It’s becoming more science minded because you really have to think through the decisions you’re making. It’s no longer just, ‘oh we own a couple of cows and farm a couple of acres.’ That’s not an option if you want to make a living anymore.”
Southeast has expanded its agricultural facilities with the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center in Gordonville, Missouri; the Charles Hutson Greenhouse and the Charles Nemanick Alternative Agriculture Garden on the main campus; the Horticulture Incubator Lab at Kennett, Missouri; the Rice Research Farm at Malden, Missouri; and the Sikeston Irrigation Canal.
Aide served as chair of the Department of Agriculture for more than 10 years. During his tenure as chair, Aide worked diligently developing and growing the Department of Agriculture. Under his leadership, the number of majors in the department more than doubled, and he was responsible for offering the Bachelor of Science in agribusiness at the regional campuses in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston, Missouri. While he was chair, he hired several new faculty who are innovative and student-centered. He also has been a tireless fund raiser and grant writer, improving the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center and the new rice research greenhouse in Malden.