Nathan Fortner, despite having not been raised in agriculture, developed an early interest in biological systems, eventually developing a specific interest in agricultural systems. Nathan received his BS in Agronomy from Missouri State University (2002), and did post-graduate study at the University of Arkansas. Nathan began the DPH program in January 2017 by taking distance classes that will count toward the program.
Nathan works for a start-up biotech company as a rice agronomist, leading rice production first in North Carolina, then in Kansas; as well as counter-season seed production in the US Virgin Islands, and two seasons in Chile.
Over the last few years, through chance conversations with individuals working in faith-based organizations abroad, he began to hear many instances in which these individuals see the need for improvements in agriculture within the communities they serve in the developing world. They have a desire to get involved, but often do not know where to begin, or where to find appropriate expertise (e.g. CGIAR centers). In 2016 he conducted a survey of three faith-based mission organizations to help determine the prevalence of these scenarios. He's now navigating a career transition in which he hopes to work with faith-based workers and their communities in the developing world to assess constraints to current agricultural systems. He would then assist them to facilitate technology transfer between the communities they serve and scientists and research centers who are developing current advancements in sustainable agricultural science, to bring the most appropriate solutions to the community and agricultural system.
Nathan said..."I began to realize the DPH program would provide the kind of depth and breadth in plant science and agronomy which would better equip me to make accurate assessments of constraints to agricultural systems in any environment. I don't plan on solving these problems myself, rather understanding the science that can solve them, and being very effective at finding and collaborating with the scientists who are solving specific problems; functioning as, and enabling extension services, which are often lacking in the developing world. I'm excited about the versatility the DPH program entails, and how it will build versatility in me which I can bring to the diverse environments of global agriculture".