The College of Applied Science and Technology welcomed a wonderful group of new faculty members this year! Some members from the group took the time to answer a series of questions designed to help students and colleagues get to know them better. In this series of new faculty profiles, members of different departments share their background, research interests, hobbies, and more.

Wrapping up this week’s set of profiles is Dr. Jay Solomonson, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agriculture.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? Where did you study?

Hi! I am originally from Coal Valley, IL, a small town outside of the Illinois Quad Cities. I’m a graduate of Orion High School. I received my bachelor of science degree from Western Illinois University, my master of science degree from the University of Illinois, and my doctor of philosophy degree from Iowa State University, all in agricultural Education.

What originally got you interested in studying agriculture?

I grew up on a family farm outside of the Illinois Quad Cities. Growing up, we grew corn and soybeans and raised hogs. I have always wanted to do something in the agricultural industry because of my background, but when I got to high school and started to take agriculture classes and became active in the FFA, I knew I wanted to do something specifically within agricultural education. I taught high school agriculture and was an FFA advisor for 17 years, prior to taking a position as part of the Illinois Agricultural Education state staff. I was in that position for a year before coming to Illinois State as an assistant professor of agricultural education.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching?

The thing I enjoy most about teaching is working with my students. Whether it is online or in person, I enjoy the interaction and seeing my students succeed, both in and out of the classroom.

What are your research interest areas? Any items on the agenda you’d like to share?

My current research interests are in the area of agriculture teacher recruitment and retention. Being involved in agricultural education for almost two decades, I have witnessed many of my colleagues choose to leave the teaching and profession for other endeavors. So many of them were wonderful educators, but extremely burnt out, causing them to leave. I have been focusing on why agriculture teachers leave, why they stay, and what can be done to decrease our attrition rate.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My family keeps me busy. I am married to my wonderful wife, Sheryl, and we have two children, Adalyn (11) and Weston (9). We also have a dog, two cats, and about 30 chickens. My wife and I stay busy attending our kids’ activities. We are also avid Redbird, Fighting Illini, and Chicago Bears fans and enjoy watching and attending as many games as possible!

What is your favorite season of the year and why?

My favorite season is fall because of the great weather, beautiful scenery, and of course… football season.

How does it feel to become a Redbird?

I have really enjoyed my time as a Redbird thus far. Arriving on campus during a global pandemic hasn’t been ideal, but I appreciate how helpful and nice everyone has been. I look forward too many years as an ISU Redbird!

Think a major within the Department of Agriculture might be for you? Check out the department’s website for more information.