‘It’s such a great location, right on campus’

‘It’s such a great location, right on campus’
As a student, Matt Simmons started to grow here. Now, on staff, he’s helping others grow here, too.
“Agriculture is in everyone’s life, whether they see it that way or not. Waterman is a place we can show people that. We can show them how everything ties together.”Matt Simmons

As an FFA member at Northridge High School in Johnston, Ohio, Matt Simmons knew he wanted a career in agriculture—specifically, working with its new technology.

“I’ve always been a ‘machines’ kind of person,” he says. “I realized that working with machinery, working with my hands, and doing something that betters the world—that feeds the world—is what I wanted to do.”

Today, Simmons is doing that and more as assistant manager of farm operations at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, operated by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

In spring and summer, he and his co-workers plant, till, spray, and harvest.

In fall and winter, they clean equipment, select seed, and plan for the coming year. 

The increasing levels of technology involved, from recordkeeping software to computer-driven seed planters, “just fascinates me,” Simmons says.

And while Simmons is still relatively new to his job, having started in fall 2019, his history at the facility, and seeing it as a place to grow both literally and figuratively, goes back a few years before that.

From 2015–2018, Simmons was a CFAES undergraduate student on his way to a bachelor’s degree in agricultural systems management, the same degree his CFAES-alumnus father earned. And, sometimes, the courses for his major took him to Waterman.

“Our vision for Waterman is to get every student at Ohio State to come through here, to see what’s here, to see what modern agriculture is about.”Matt Simmons

There was an autoguidance trial there in one class—“seeing a piece of equipment basically drive itself,” as Simmons described it—tilling practice and comparisons in another, running a Kubota excavator in a third.

“It’s such a great location, right on campus,” Simmons says.

And now that he works there, he hopes to help others come visit and learn, too—from members of the community to CFAES students to their fellow Buckeyes from all across campus.

“Our vision for Waterman is to get every student at Ohio State to come through here, to see what’s here, to see what modern agriculture is about, to get involved,” Simmons says.

“For anyone who doesn’t work in agriculture, it’s a great place to come and experience it.”

Story by Kurt Knebusch, photos by Ken Chamberlain, video by John Rice and Walter Warkus, CFAES Advancement.