Sarah Widener–Staff Writer
Dordt welcomes husband and wife team Professor Kyle Dahl and Professor Spring Dahl to the agriculture department. Professor Kyle Dahl has advanced degrees from both the University of Nebraska and Texas Tech University. Professor Spring Dahl has a PhD from Texas Tech University and a MS from Michigan State University.
What inspired you to work in agriculture?
Spring: Working with people and animals and food industry has been a lifelong passion for me. My parents did a very good job of interpreting “Train up a child the way they should go” by encouraging my interests and passions as much as my behavior.
Kyle: My passion for agriculture was sort of the later in life revelation. I had a small town solo law practice in Nebraska. It was my interaction with clients, helping farmers with estate planning, business management, signing up for entities, and things like that that interested me in agriculture. Also, spring, while she was in grad school, influenced me from our conversations, which is how I ended up getting a master’s degree in food sciences.
What is one life experience that really shaped you into who you now are?
Spring: Being homeschooled which allowed for my involvement level and 4-H and a focus on on animals and animal sciences. Also my undergrad experience at Dordt helped me to see Ag as both the calling and as a passion.
Kyle: Throughout my practice I found what I really enjoyed was working with people and explaining things to them and helping them understand concepts and practices that seem overwhelming complex and breaking them down to make it manageable way they can understand. So that’s how I got into this my interest in teaching. It’s always kind of been something I’ve enjoyed doing even in my role as a lawyer.
Where did you go to school?
Kyle: I went to Lincoln for undergrad law school and then Texas Tech for my masters.
Spring: I went to Dordt University for my undergrad, completed my masters at Michigan State, and achieved my doctorate at Texas Tech.
What was your favorite part of college?
Spring: The relationships and mentors.
Kyle: I enjoyed the lifestyle of being a student and learning.
If you were giving advice to a college student on how to succeed academically, spiritually, and emotionally, what would you say?
Spring: Well, first is that you recognize that your passion can be your calling. I would also encourage integrity in all of those areas.
Kyle: If you have a passion for something and you good at it, then pursue it. Don’t think that you have to do something just because you have to make money, or because you’re obligated by other pressures, whether societal or family. Trust that the Lord has a plan for you. Also, you may start heading one way and end up somewhere else, lots of people who thought they were going to do one thing end up doing something completely different and that’s ok.
What have you learned from your past jobs?
Spring: As an outbreak investigator, I learned more about the networking of the food industry within production agriculture. I took that into teaching online. I’ve been teaching online for 12 years for a couple of different universities at the same time being mom and doing some consulting and managing. Being mom is actually probably where I have learned the most because of serious issues that our kids have with food. I put a lot of my research background into figuring that what was going on with that with the kids.
Kyle: What I’ve learned from my different experiences in different jobs is that it’s about the relationship with the person you’re working with. That was where I found the fulfillment it wasn’t in the subject matter was in the relationships with the people.
Can tell me a little bit about your kids.
Spring: We have seven kids that call me mom. We have two biological, three that are that are adopted from foster care, and two that we are fostering.
What age range do your kids fit in?
Spring: 11 to six weeks.
What made you both decide to teach at Dordt?
Kyle: I appreciate what Dordt is doing with their vision, and how they’re maintaining the integrity of the culture and the faith. There’s lots of other colleges and universities that started as, religious institutions but now have gotten away from that. I appreciate the reform perspective that they’ve established.
Spring: There is also the unique aspect that there were two perfect job opening within the same department.
What are you enjoying most in the classes here currently teaching?
Spring: I enjoy the interaction with the students.
Kyle: The opportunity to learn from each other.
How have you seen God working here?
Spring: People are genuinely interested in how we’re doing and have been offering help if we need anything.
Kyle: Lots of people involved on campus or in foster care and adopted have reached out. It’s just been really cool to make that connection with so many people.
What is your personal mission statement towards ag?
Spring: I want to be very proactive in addressing current Ag issues and working in consumer interests and on taking that communication gap between producers and consumers down.
Kyle: I want to get students to think critically, because you don’t know what the next generation is going to face. If we have the right framework, and we’re able to think critically about things, we can address them these issue instead of being blown by the winds of trends and opinions.
What are you hoping to make happen here at Dordt in the next few years?
Spring: Short term I want to develop relationships with students that build to trust and mentoring opportunities. Long term, to be able to grow and expand the department and strengthen course offerings.
Kyle: I think there are some markets out there that don’t realize that Dordt is a Christian college with a full Ag program and we have opportunities for growth. We offer the perspective that nobody else can there’s all sorts of resources out there on the technical aspects of things but they’re not offering the perspective that Dordt does. It would be great to utilize our niche market and grow the program.
When students graduate, what is one thing you would want them to take with them from your teaching?
Spring: I want them to have the excitement that comes with align their passion and their calling along with critical thinking skills.
Kyle: I want my students to understand the law of unintended consequences. Issues whatever they are aren’t simple. You just can’t say oh this is good and that’s a bad it’s a little more complex than that. You have to understand that if you do something over here there’s going to be an impact over here. Nothing happens in a vacuum.
Professor Spring is teaching orientation and Ag safety along with principles of swine management this semester. Professor Kyle is teaching marketing of agricultural production.