A Louisiana State University (LSU) sign proudly welcomes all who enter Eddie Funderburg's office, as do two large bass mounts and a soils chart. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduce this Louisiana native's passions.
Growing up in Louisiana, this bayou boy loved fishing, football and a good shrimp etouffee. However, all these loves took a backseat to agriculture. During college at LSU, he followed an agriculture path which led him to the Noble Research Institute where he has served as a soils and crops consultant for 14 years.
On this day, Funderburg, Ed.D., discussed the moments that shaped his life, the job that still inspires him and a few memories that might scare Kermit the Frog.
What inspired you to pursue a career in agriculture?
I grew up around agriculture it is just what we did. It was our way of life. In college, I took a soil fertility class, and it sparked my interest in soil so I continued down that degree path. After college, I was the state extension soils professor at Mississippi State University and LSU.
How did you get to the Noble Research Institute?
I came to the Foundation in November 2000. I was working at LSU but had decided I did not want my kids growing up in the Baton Rouge area, so I went looking for a job that was equivalent to what I was doing as an extension agent.
So how is your job at the Noble Research Institute similar?
I previously worked as both an extension county agent and state extension soils professor This job seems to combine the best traits of both. I get to work with individual producers, like I did as a county agent, and get to specialize, like I did at the state level in extension. As a soils and crops consultant, I hone in on soil management and weed control.
What is your favorite part of being a consultant?
I enjoy working with the farmers and ranchers to help them achieve their goals. One great aspect of the Noble Research Institute's consultation program is that we don't cost the producers a penny. It's a free service that can change their entire operation.
What do you do as a soils consultant?
I enjoy making complex things simple. I help translate the sometimes complex chemistry and physics aspects of soil so that farmers can produce better crops and ranchers can grow better forages for cattle.
What was it like growing up in northwestern Louisiana?
We lived in a small town where you knew everyone and everything. We were the smallest high school that played football in the state, and every other team played us for their homecoming. The best thing was it was just a short walk to the bayou for some duck hunting and fishing. On the weekends, my dad and I would go fishing and listen to LSU football on the radio.
What was your favorite/least favorite job?
Unfortunately, the job selection as a kid was slim. My worst job was roofing houses in the humid Louisiana heat. It really made me think about going to college. My fishing hobby did come in handy for my job of catching frogs for a seafood restaurant. I earned $1 per frog. It was definitely the most fun and unusual job I had.
Why weren't you interested in fisheries as a degree and job path?
I truly enjoy fishing as a hobby. If it had become my job, I might not have enjoyed it as much. I'd rather take a trip to Belize with my oldest daughter for some offshore fishing than look at fish and water all day, every day.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
If I didn't have my current profession, I have always wanted to be LSU's head football coach. It's in my blood.
Since the earliest days of the Noble Research Institute, its agricultural consultants have consistently preached the importance of getting good soil test results before beginning any soil health program. Eddie Funderburg recorded a YouTube video explaining why a soil test is important and showing how to take a sample that will yield accurate, usable results. See Funderburg's video at noble.org/video/ag/soil-test/.