I was born in rural northern Illinois in 1968.
I spent my first eight years on a 52-cow dairy farm near Winslow, IL and then we moved to a 323-acre 300-head beef farm near Polo, IL. We raised corn, oats, and alfalfa to feed the cows.
Both sets of my grandparents lived close and we had a strong relationship, going to church down the street together.
In high school, I took AG classes and was a member of the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America, better known as the FFA. During my junior year, I served as the Chapter Secretary.
I participated in Soil Judging, Dairy Cattle judging, and Parliamentary Procedure contests. This last participation directly to me being chosen as the IU East Faculty Senate Parliamentarian 30 years later because I knew the rules of how a meeting is run using Robert’s Rules of Order!
I learned so many things while being raised on a farm. I learned to drive first by driving tractors. I learned dedication to living things. The cows are hungry and need to be fed twice a day. They can become sick and need care. The crops take priority. There is a small window when they can be planted. There is a small window when they can be harvested. I learned the connection between hard work and an honest living.
Watching my father and being a participant, I can take care of most small to medium home maintenance issues. Why pay for something when I can repair it myself? I also learned to know when to call in an expert. I worked for neighbors baling hay- hard, dirty work.
In 1983, my father was selected as the Ogle County Conservation Farmer of the Year. He was an early adopter of no-till corn. He also planted crops in strips and installed waterways. All of these techniques were done to prevent erosion. A farmer has nothing if they do not a soil to plant in. I learned that we must do things sustainably if we are to maintain life.
My family was a victim of the farm economic crisis of the middle 1980s and had to sell in 1987. I learned that sometimes things are out of our control and that no matter how hard you work, things fail.
During the summer of 1984, I attended the History of Science and Technology Camp at the University of Illinois. I attended the 1985 American Legion Illinois Boys State. I was elected to be the Alderman of the 3rd district in Glascoff City in Comery County. I was valedictorian of my high school class (of 53 students) in 1986.
I attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1986-1996, studying Agricultural Science with a focus on plant genetics. I got all three degrees there (BS, MS & PhD), academically inbred!
The summer between my sophomore and junior year I worked with a U of I corn breeder. This started my deep interest in corn genetics. The next summer I worked for Mycogen Seeds (now part of Dow AgroSciences) supervising a corn pollinating crew. After I graduated with a BS in agriculture, I started a Master’s program with the professor I had worked with two summers before. Upon completion of that degree, I explored several different options around the Midwest but decided it made the most sense to continue working on corn but moved to Plant Pathology (the study of plant diseases). I spent four years studying the effects of a plant virus on corn inbreds and hybrids, writing a dissertation on this research. I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Plant Pathology in 1997.
In 1996, I was hired by FFR Cooperative of Battleground, IN. I developed inbreds and hybrids for the Coop system. I traveled extensively around Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio providing sales support and conducting research trials.
When Alisa was hired as Asst. Professor of English by IU East in 1999, I was able to find a job as the station manager for an Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc (IFSI) research facility just across the border in Arcanum, OH. I managed three full-time and 45+ part-time employees over the years. Both of these jobs got me well acquainted with farming in the eastern corn belt.
In 2009, IFSI closed the Arcanum research facility. I was unemployed for less than a month before I was hired to take over a couple of classes mid-semester at IU East in order to free up a faculty member to conduct her research. This is difficult for both parties, teacher, and student. In a relatively short time, I was able to relieve the student’s anxiety of a change of a teacher midstream while maintaining the integrity of the class objectives. I continued as adjunct instructor.
In 2011, IU East hired me as Lecturer of Biology. In 2016, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer of Biology at Indiana University East. I teach classes in microbiology, genetics, evolution, environmental science, and the requisite Introduction to Biology. I have had over 1800 students since 2009.
In terms of my service to the university, I have been very busy. To help Alisa take a group of students to Stratford, Ontario, I acquired a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) in 2010 to be able to drive the university bus. I have driven many groups to various functions as a result of this license. I have served on many committees at IU East, departmental, University, and systemwide. I have also represented the IU East School of Natural Science on the Core Transfer Library project. This is a function provided by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education that allows for the smooth transfer of credits between member schools. I have been both a member and the chair of multiple search committees.
My wife Alisa Clapp-Itnyre and I met at the University of Illinois Wesley Foundation in 1993 and were married at Wesley United Methodist Church there in 1996. We first moved to Lafayette, IN, and then moved to Richmond in 1999 for Alisa to take a tenure-track position in English at IU East. She is currently a professor of English having published two academic books on Victorian literature and hymns.
Our daughter Annetta May was born in 2002. She went to RCS schools Charles, Hibberd, and swam on the swim team of RHS for four years. She graduated valedictorian from RHS in 2020. She is now a junior in environmental science at IU Bloomington. We are very proud of her!
I have been very active at Richmond Civic Theatre (RCT) since 2000. I have been involved in over 70 productions both behind the scenes and on stage. My first on-stage production was the Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged where, as one of three actors, I played many characters, including Juliet, Ophelia and Helen. (This might be my biggest scandal, playing women on stage!) Alisa and Annetta have acted in various plays there, too. Alisa has directed plays with Stage One. We have been in multiple productions together. Here I am with Henry Christian, teaching him “the ropes” at the sound board for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 2022.
I have been on the Richmond Street Tree Commission since 2005. I am now President.
I have been the mayor’s appointee to the Wayne-Union Recycling Solid Waste board since 2017. I was elected President in 2022.
I ran for RCS School Board in district 2 in the fall of 2016 and lost to Brad Walton (5749 to 4641). In 2018, I ran for an at-large seat, placing third out of six candidates.
Growing up I was very active with our local United Methodist, where I was confirmed in 1982.
At the University of Illinois, I attended the Wesley United Methodist church where Alisa and I were married in 1996.
We have been active members of United Methodist churches in West Lafayette and here in Richmond. We are very active at Central UMC here in Richmond: Alisa sings in the choir, sings solos, plays in the handbell choir; and I run sound for the services. Our daughter Annetta sang in the children’s choir and did youth group there.
We did have a seven year hiatus from the Methodist church from 2005 to 2012 when we attended the Richmond Church of the Brethren.