Because his job in food science
research and management isn’t one that
lets him check off a list of tangible daily
accomplishments, Tracy Baker turns to
hands-on pastimes to give him the
satisfaction that comes from completion.
“I like hobbies where I can lay out a
timeline and when I’m done I can pack
up the tools, sit back and see that I
completed something,” he says.
Tinkering is something he’s long
enjoyed, he says. He mastered it at the
side of his grandfather, an electrician.
“He always referred to me as his
plumber’s helper,” Baker says. “I learned
a lot from him. I even rebuilt and
repainted a 1959 Edsel when I was 15.”
Today, gardening, his greatest passion,
and woodworking fill the bill.
Baker started his latest gardening
project with a clean canvas in Bradenton,
Florida, when he moved into a new
house on three-quarters of an acre.
“I’ve been trying to give my house
personality,” he says of his landscaping
efforts that include planting a banana
tree, five different varieties of palm trees
and a host of tropical plants.
“Most things here don’t die. And they
grow like crazy. So I plant them, they
grow, and I trim them.” He’s also created
an indoor garden around his screened-in
Woodworking is a hobby he’s returning
to, with a new shop just set up. First on
his list is a dining room table with
marble inlay. In earlier years, he’s
mastered fine cabinetry, made a hutch,
some tables and bookcases.
“It’s something I can look at and say, ‘I
completed that,’” he says. “It balances
“The years spent at Purdue turned a shy, awkward,
small town boy into the very confident outgoing
leader I am today. Although my formal
Purdue education opened the door for me, it was
lessons learned at Purdue that formed my career.”