Introducing Joel Tatum – Midwest Solar Specialist
I grew up on several different cattle operations in Missouri and Illinois, so my love of the outdoors and animals has always played a large role in my life. My family worked for the Funk family at Funk Farms Trust in Shirley, Illinois where there was an abundance of cattle, horses, and row crops. In addition to learning how to care and provide proper nutrition for animals, we also farmed corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.
My passion for the outdoors and agriculture later led me to Kentucky where I attended Murray State University and graduated with a bachelor’s in agriculture science and a master’s in animal nutrition. Living in Kentucky introduced me to many different farming and ranching practices. I had a hand in many different aspects—including baling hay and cutting tobacco. In addition to my studies, I also had the opportunity to join the Rodeo team and compete in several events.
After college, I traveled and still competed in Rodeo’s while working in several different industries. After many years of traveling and being on the road, with a few ag-related jobs in-between, I had the opportunity to become part of the solar industry and worked in multiple midwestern states designing and selling systems. During this period, I also served as a regional specialist for the University of Missouri Extension. I love being able to support people with lowering their overhead costs and helping small businesses thrive, all while keeping the land and farming at the forefront.
I’m excited to be in my new role as AFT’s first Midwest Solar Specialist, where I will play a key role in implementing our strategy at the intersection of solar energy generation and farmland conservation, primarily in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. I feel like my years of experience in the solar industry, along with my farming and ranching background, put me in a unique spot to shape effective programs, and help growers and ranchers navigate some tough decisions that are ahead.