Working on his neighbor’s row crop farm as a high school student, Charlie Ebbesmeyer developed an interest in plant sciences. Coming to the University of Missouri and majoring in plant sciences turned that interest into a passion.
Ebbesmeyer earned his plant sciences degree, with an emphasis in crop management, from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) in 2019. Right after graduation, Ebbesmeyer took his passion to MFA Incorporated, where he serves as a local agronomist.
“My time in the plant sciences degree program really built a solid foundation,” Ebbesmeyer said. “It’s exciting to put what I learned during my time on campus into practice every day.”
Ebbesmeyer grew up on his family’s farm in Fayette, Mo., where he primarily worked with livestock. His neighbor’s farm included 1,000 acres of corn, soybean and hay crops. It was there where he started to notice the science behind growing a crop.
“I really just enjoyed the entire process,” Ebbesmeyer said. “I helped plant the seed, watched it grow and finally harvested the crop. Seeing all of that hard work pay off was really rewarding.
“Plants in general were interesting to me. The science and technology that went into developing crops – I wanted to learn more.”
Ebbesmeyer was familiar with the MU campus from an early age, as he made the trip to Columbia multiple times through 4-H and FFA.
“I felt that CAFNR would offer me the best options to further my agriculture knowledge,” Ebbesmeyer said. “I grew up around agriculture, and I was interested in a career related to agriculture. I knew CAFNR would help me get to where I wanted to go.”
Ebbesmeyer took full advantage of the opportunities offered to his during his four years in CAFNR. He was incredibly active, including several signature experiences through the RISE Initiative. He participated in research, traveled to Holland through study abroad and took part in several experiential learning opportunities through various clubs and organizations.
“CAFNR was such a good fit from the beginning,” Ebbesmeyer said.
Ebbesmeyer conducted research with Newell Kitchen, an adjunct associate professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology. Kitchen is also a soil scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. Ebbesmeyer served as a research technician and did a variety of work, including collecting, processing and gathering data on soil and crop residue samples.
Ebbesmeyer’s study abroad experience to Holland gave him a different look at agriculture. The Holland study abroad program offers a unique opportunity to visit the biggest flower wholesaler on the planet and take hands-on design classes to gain a better understanding of Dutch horticulture.
He was part of several clubs during his time in CAFNR as well, including the Agronomy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and Independent Aggies.
“Each of these experiences were incredibly valuable as an undergraduate student,” Ebbesmeyer said. “The professional development opportunities were very important, as each allowed me to grow in different ways.”
Ebbesmeyer first got his foot in the door at MFA between his junior and senior year of college. He connected with the group during the annual CAFNR Career Fair and served as a crop scout intern for four months. When he graduated from Mizzou, a position was open for him to work full-time.
“It was really rewarding to move into that role right after graduation,” Ebbesmeyer said. “I was able to use all of the knowledge I had gained during my time in CAFNR every day to help producers in mid-Missouri.”
Ebbesmeyer helps those producers improve their crop health and growth. He meets with growers in the offseason to build plans for the upcoming growing season and then makes in-season fertility and chemical recommendations based off of the plans. His goal is to make sure the grower’s crop reaches its full potential.
“I really get to do a little bit of everything,” Ebbesmeyer said. “During the busy season – the growing season – I’m in the field every day. I check the rows to make sure there aren’t any stand issues or if we need to make any applications. It’s really important for me to keep in constant communication with the grower throughout the entire process.”
Ebbesmeyer is a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and holds an ICCA 4R Nutrient Management Specialty Certification, both from the American Society of Agronomy. He is also an unmanned aircraft general drone pilot.
“CAFNR, especially the plant sciences degree program, really helped me be prepared for a my future career,” Ebbesmeyer said. “They set me up very well for success.”
The CAFNR Career Services office recognizes career development as a lifelong process and is committed to helping students think about their future and work to make that future a reality. CAFNR has been incredibly successful in that regard as 99.2 percent of CAFNR graduates report a successful career outcome, such as employment, continuing education or military service, within six months of graduation. Also, 85 percent of CAFNR students are employed in a field directly related to their degree program after graduation.