As the new director of farms at Eastern Kentucky University, Justin McKinney has big plans.

McKinney served from 2002 to 2014 in a variety of capacities with the University of Florida: biological scientist with the Plant Science Research and Education Unit and then as senior biological scientist and coordinator of research programs and services with the Department of Agronomy. From 2014 to 2015, he served as operations manager for Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., a direct support organization of the University of Florida. His work experience also includes running his family’s farming operation.

He joins EKU as the University’s Meadowbrook Farm is embarking on several major projects, including:

·         the implementation of dairy grazing lanes, giving the award-winning herd more opportunities throughout the grazing months.

·         the installation of a new state-of-the-art beef handling facility, in the final stages of completion. The facility is expected to enhance the learning environment for students.

·         a sustainable pasture rotation program to improve crop and forage production.

·         improvements to the swine unit, including a new roof and curtain system, to be automated by temperature control. Several different swine confinement options are being explored to identify which one improves sow comfort and production throughout the gestation period.

“My hope is that Meadowbrook Farm can be utilized as a demonstration farm which adopts the newest science-based techniques in agriculture to improve the educational quality for our students and community,” McKinney said. “My personal goal is to be able to articulate and implement sound management principles to a diverse audience … to connect to their situation and respond in an appropriate manner that is scientifically backed.”

Meadowbrook Farm, he said, “is a great resource and asset that empowers our current and future students in and around the EKU community by helping them to reach their full potential in agriculture careers.”

McKinney earned an associate degree in accounting from South Florida Community College, and his bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics and master’s degree in agronomy from the University of Florida.

To tour Meadowbrook Farm, contact McKinney at justin.mckinney@eku.edu or 859-622-2061.