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You are here: Home > > Dale Hess
Ecological Field Station Director
Associate Professor of Agroecology
B.A. Millersville State College, 1976
M.S., Purdue University, 1984
Ph.D., Purdue University, 1989
Office: Merry Lea at Rieth Village
Phone: (260) 799-5869
How I became an agroecologist
My interest in the natural world manifested itself in early childhood, and an aptitude for the natural sciences became apparent in the classroom. Creating a herbarium while a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer in Burkina Faso, introduced me to the marvelous diversity of savanna plants, and I pursued graduate training in the plant sciences. While working as a plant pathologist in West Africa I became acutely aware of the importance of sustainable food production systems adapted to their cultural context.
Ideas that matter to me
- an economy dedicated to the pursuit of products and profits devalues human work, degrades communities, and destroys nature.
- the decision to care for one’s habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice.
- knowing that the world should end tomorrow, I would still plant a garden today.
The classes I teach and how I teach them
I teach/coordinate the four courses of Merry Lea's residential Agroecology Summer Intensive. It is important to me to cultivate in students a curiosity and love of learning that will grow throughout life, and I want them to realize that learning is a collective and cooperative undertaking.
My courses are a blend of lectures, laboratory sessions, field trips and gardening tasks. In a given week, students might prune fireblight from diseased shrubbery, look at soil arthropods under a microscope, plant tomatoes, visit an urban community garden and be asked to draw up a business plan for a farm of their own. These experiences take place against a backdrop of healthy northern Indiana ecosystems. Our prairies are a blaze of diverse wildflowers while students are in residence and we frequently encounter the diverse denizens of our woods, wetlands and grasslands.
On alternating years, I also teach Botany of Seed Plants at Goshen College.
What students say
“I learned to be, and see, in new and thoughtful ways.”
“It made me rethink everything I know about food, farming, and living sustainably.”
“It is about building relationships to each other, and the earth, through agriculture.”
"Come compost together!"
I serve as curator of the Merry Lea Herbarium and contribute to cataloging the biodiversity found in Merry Lea’s 1,189 acres through collecting and identifying Merry Lea’s flora. My primary research interest is integrated management of crop pests and diseases. In my previous work in West Africa I worked with farmers to sustainably improve the productivity of their pearl millet and sorghum-based production systems.
Yonli, D., Traoré, H., Hess, D.E., Sankara, P. & Sérémé, P. 2006. Effect of growth medium, Striga seed burial distance and depth on efficacy of Fusarium isolates to control Striga hermonthica in Burkina Faso. Weed Research 46:73-81.
Haussmann, B.I.G., Hess, D.E., Omanya, G.O., Folkertsma, R.T., Reddy, B.V.S., Kayentao, M., Welz, H.G. & Geiger, H.H. 2004. Genomic regions influencing resistance to the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica in two recombinant inbred populations of sorghum. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 107: 1005-1016.
Hess, D.E., & Dodo, H. 2004. Potential for sesame to contribute to integrated control of Striga hermonthica in the West African Sahel. Crop Protection 23:515-522.
Hess, D.E., Bandyopadhyay, R. & Sissoko, I. 2002. Pattern analysis of sorghum genotype x environment interaction for leaf, panicle and grain anthracnose in Mali. Plant Disease 86:1374-1382.
I am available to speak on the following topics
Agriculture, plant health, and the social consequences of various agricultural systems.
Bicycling, gardening, languages, music, photography, reading, and stamp-collecting.
Lived/worked in: Burkina Faso, France, Germany, Mali, Niger, and Tanzania
Visited: Belgium, Bénin, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, D.R. Congo, England, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Holland, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Sénégal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, and Uganda.
Have You Considered?
"The first principles of agroecology appear to be essentially the same as the first principles of human happiness:
Life has purpose;
Life is interconnected;
Life is good."
- John Ikerd
"If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do now.The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones."
- Wendell Berry
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, P.O. Box 263 Wolf Lake, IN 46796 | Phone (260) 799-5869 • Fax (260) 799-5875