- October 2022
Research Associate I (L,P,S)
Coastal Research & Extension Center
Beaumont Horticulture Unit
Years in Position/Service to MSU: 30
Farming is engrained in Mike Ely’s DNA, and his experience in agriculture dates to his childhood when he helped his grandfather and uncle grow vegetables, including greenhouse tomatoes.
“In my case, since I was a late teenager, I’ve been able to work fairly independently making decisions about farming and pursue areas in which I had an interest,” said Ely.
Ely has taken his love for agriculture and turned it into a 30-year career as a research associate at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in the Beaumont Horticulture Unit. Sitting on 20 acres, research here focuses on variety trials, cultural practices, production techniques, and demonstrations of various vegetables, small fruits, and landscape and gardening ideas.
“Project ideas come from advisory groups, individuals, leadership and all over. When we get a project, I write a plot plan, and then we decide what data will be collected. My job is to get it fertilized and to the point where it can be picked,” explained Ely.
With all the different projects Ely has a role in, his favorite part about his job is simply the location.
“I love being right here at Beaumont. This is a really nice place,” he said.
And others enjoy being there too. The station often hosts school groups, garden clubs, Master Gardeners, and other civic groups for tours, but Ely’s favorite visitors are his family. He and his wife, Teresa, have been married for 42 years and have four children and 14 grandchildren.
“I enjoy being with my family, and they all love a tour on the wagon and helping pick a few things and being involved in the process.”
For those who have a passion for pursuing a future in farming, Ely shared this advice, “You have to understand the business component to farming, and that includes understanding the rules and regulations and cost of salaries. You’ve got to know your bottom line.”