Dathel Nimmons has worked in food supply chain management her entire career, most recently as senior vice president at Bob Evans. She also owns and operates two farms. She knows agribusiness and says supply chain is what makes it tick.
“The agribusiness supply chain includes equipment manufacturers, seed or fertilizer suppliers, growers, bankers, processors, truckers, and retailers,” says Nimmons. “It is a complex and interdependent system full of opportunities.”
As lecturer for AEDECON 3105, Principles of Agribusiness and Food Supply Chains, she brings together years of professional and personal experience to illuminate food’s journey from farm to fork and help students identify areas they might work in during internships or after graduation. Through lectures and coursework, students learn of the actors, intrinsic issues, and support systems that are essential to make agribusiness, commodity, and food supply chains effective.
They also get to develop a supply chain of their own. Nimmons says that understanding up-lines and down-lines and not just one piece of the supply chain is imperative, especially for students who plan to return to family farms after college. She says students need to understand where their operation fits in with the entire chain. She asserts that farmers and producers require more skills and tools to be successful than in the past so coursework also covers big data, analytics, finance, automation, and the use of drones and GPS satellites in precision farming.
“Technology in agribusiness is going to make a difference,” says Nimmons. “How we leverage that technology as we do more with less will increase efficiencies.”
Students also benefit from Nimmons’ experience as a hiring manager. In class, they examine skills needed to be successful as they begin careers and how to stand out among peers. One assignment is for students to develop a 90-second elevator pitch to sell her on hiring them. They not only have to communicate their experience and unique skill sets but develop and use language to close the deal through following up with prospective employers.
"Students have to know who they are, their value, and be able to sell themselves to employers,” says Nimmons. “As they grow in their careers, they will need emotional intelligence and leadership skills to progress.”
Dr. Anna Parkman, AEDE Undergraduate Program Leader says students love Nimmons' passion and the real-world knowledge they gain by taking the course.
“She is a force,” says Parkman. “She has jumped in with both feet and is engaged with the entire teaching process.”