John Dahl Retirement

The end of an era – Jon Dahl retires

After nearly 40 years managing the Plant and Soil Test Lab, Jon Dahl is retiring from MSU in December 2022.

Success has many forms in Dahl’s remarkable career. From overcoming a rocky start, to running the lab on a minimal budget, to repairing his own machines, to training numerous students --and some faculty-- in the science- and art- of soil chemistry.

Jon grew up on a farm in western Michigan and felt a deep connection to agriculture. He graduated from MSU’s Ag Tech program and tried working as a fertilizer warehouse manager, where he soon learned that at 20 years old, he “was not ready for the combination of people skills, fertilizer effects on old equipment and then dealing with all the issues that arose out of that!” Lucky for us, Jon returned to MSU and earned his BS and MS degrees in Crop and Soil Sciences. He then applied for the job as manager of the soil test lab. “I was offered the position --to my surprise--because my first experience as a manager was a disaster!”  

It seems the lessons Jon learned from his first experience helped him in his new career.  “I tried to treat everyone in the lab with respect,” Jon says, who is always eager to roll up his sleeves and do everything in the lab from the most menial tasks to the most difficult, working alongside students, technicians, and faculty.

In retirement, Jon is looking forward to spending more time with his wife managing their church community garden, which they started together 12 years ago. “We also have 4 grandchildren in the area that keep us moving.” Jon is also working with a fertilizer company start-up, producing TikTok videos on various lawn and garden topics! We’ll miss you Jon!

Pictured John Dahl Fixing a Machine in the Lab. From early on I had to learn how to use and repair the equipment,” Jon says. Especially the Technicon Autoanalyzer “which was a constant source of trouble. However, I have never viewed new opportunities as extra work, but as a chance to grow in some way.”
Pictured John Dahl With Student. Jon regards the student experience in the lab as the most important, and has spent countless hours training students on various aspects of lab analysis. “The experience they gain will serve them well down the road.”

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