Crawford County, IN
Jim Kaiser was raised on the family farm in Crawford County, Indiana. He received a B.S. in Agricultural Education from Purdue University in1952. In 1959 he received his M.S. in Education Administration from Indiana University, and in 1971 he graduated from the University of Missouri with a Ph.D. in Agronomy and Statistics.
Following his graduation from Purdue, Kaiser taught vocational agriculture, physics and chemistry at Milltown High School for two years. From 1957 to 1968 he was superintendent of the Southern Indiana Purdue Ag Center (SIPAC). Following his graduation from the University of Missouri, he joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky as an extension forage specialist. From 1973 to 1985 he was associate professor and director of the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. In 1985 he became associate professor of agronomy for forage crop production and pasture management at the University of Illinois Department of Agronomy. From 1949 to 1990 he served in the U. S. Army, U.S. Army Reserves and the Indiana Army National Guard, attaining the rank of Colonel. In 1993 he retired from academia and moved backed to Indiana to operate Kaiser Farms / Breezy Heights Charolais, the family cattle and timber farm in Crawford County.
During his 40 years of service in the public sector, Kaiser authored more than 325 publications, primarily on forage crops and pasture management, for students, producers and scientists, and he participated in international projects in nine countries. But it is his record of volunteer service to his community and to agriculture that distinguish Kaiser among his peers. He served on numerous committees for the American Society of Agronomy and for the American Forage and Grasslands Council, where he served as a director from 1985-89. From 1991 to 1993 he was president of the North Central Section, Society for Range Management. He is a charter member of the Indiana Charolais Association, the Indiana Forage Council and the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, and served the latter as president in 1986-87. His local community and agricultural leadership activities are numerous. He was president of the Crawford County Farm Bureau 1955-57, chairman of the Dubois County (Ind.) Soil and Water Conservation District 1962-65, and chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts 1997-2001. His current memberships and activities include: Board of Supervisors of the Crawford County Soil and Water Conservation District, Secretary of Indiana Grazing Land Conservation Initiative Committee, Forestry Committee of the Lincoln Hills Resource Conservation and Development Council, Board of Directors of the South Central Indiana Livestock Marketing Corporation, President of the Crawford County School Building Corporation, Advisory Committee of the Corydon office of Farm Credit Service, Community Foundation of Crawford County, Board Member of Crawford County Cattle Association, Chair of the Advisory Council for Rural Health Initiatives. He is also active in the Newton Stewart Masonic Lodge where he is Past Master and in the Wickliffe United Methodist Church where he is presently a youth Sunday School teacher and secretary of the board of trustees.
Kaiser has continued the conservation and environmental stewardship legacy of his father, who eliminated tillage and row crops from the farm after WWII. He manages his registered Charolais herd of approximately 100 cows and 30 replacement heifers as a commercial herd to maximize returns. Bulls are leased for the breeding season only. Ownership is retained in feeder cattle that are shipped off-farm (currently to Central Iowa Feeders) for finishing. Kaiser practices rotational grazing and has installed eight ponds and a number of other erosion control features throughout the farm that has a range of 250 feet in elevation . The farm’s 108 acres of hardwood forests are enrolled in the Indiana Classified Forest Program and are managed for both timber production and wildlife habitat. Cattle are excluded from all forestlands. Kaiser frequently speaks to livestock and conservation meetings throughout southern Indiana, and he has hosted numerous field day activities and farm tour groups, believing that “show and tell” is the primary educational tool available to farm operators who seek to persuade others to adopt responsible conservation programs.
A multitude of organizations have honored Kaiser’s achievements over the years. Capstone awards include being named Forage Specialist Extraordinaire by the Illinois Forage Friends in 1994, and receiving the American-International Charolais Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2002.