Western Illinois University has recently made a new addition to their staff. In August, Dr. Daniel Atherton was hired on as the Assistant Professor of Precision Agriculture. With the recent trends in agriculture toward the increasing use of technology, as well as Dr. Atherton’s extensive qualifications, the School of Ag stands to benefit greatly from his presence. The already strong agricultural program at Western will be further enhanced by the addition of new classes and projects led by Dr. Atherton that focus specifically on the rapidly growing precision ag industry.
Dr. Atherton is an Illinois native, having grown up in the small town of Thomson, Illinois. Since then, he has lived in several different locations including: Morbach, Germany; Colona, IL; Carbondale, IL; and Chillicothe, IL. He is well qualified for the job with a PhD in Agricultural Sciences from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In addition to the PhD, he has received a Master of Business Administration from Bradley University, and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. While Dr. Atherton has clearly worked hard to achieve his education, he also knows the importance of family. He prefers to devote his free time to being with his wife and two daughters. Tina, his wife, works as a Speech Language Pathologist. His eldest daughter Rachel is a graduate student at Purdue University, and Blair is currently in eighth grade.
Coming into a newly created position at Western, Dr. Atherton explains his feelings on starting the job, and how he knew WIU would be the right fit for him. “A great deal of work will be required to update existing courses and create new courses for precision agriculture, but being able to shape the overall content from the ground up was enticing for me. In addition, the faculty and staff within the School of Agriculture are very supportive and are great to work with.” The School of Agriculture is also pleased to have Dr. Atherton become part of several of it’s exciting programs. Atherton states: “I am the advisor for the Ag. Mech. Club, so helping to coordinate the Ag. Mech. Show in February for the first time will be a learning experience.” He will also be helping push the school forward with new projects. “I will be working on a project capturing aerial imagery for Munson Hybrids in Galesburg over the spring and summer of 2016.”
Atherton will take over teaching Western’s existing Ag Technology courses AGTM 250, AGTM 350, and AGTM 365. There are also new courses in the works that could be available to students as soon as the Fall 2016 semester. The lack of funding for our state schools has been big news lately, and obviously Western Illinois University is one of the many schools being affected. However, the addition of a highly qualified and talented candidate like Dr. Atherton shows WIU’s unwavering commitment to strengthening their core programs, even during times of budgetary constraint. The Western School of Agriculture has long been respected as one of the state’s premier Agricultural programs, and Dr. Atherton will no doubt be an important part of maintaining that reputation well into the future.
My name is Joshua Chatterton. I am from Smithfield, IL, and currently am in my senior year at WIU with an expected graduation of Spring 2016. My major is Agricultural Science, and I will be attending AGTM 250 with Dr. Atherton this Spring.