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DAA: Walter J. Armbruster

Walter J. Armbruster


Oak Brook, IL


Walter J. Armbruster earned bachelor’s (1962) and master’s (1964) degrees in Agricultural Economics from Purdue and a doctorate in Agricultural Economics from Oregon State University (1970). He is currently Managing Director of the Farm Foundation. Here are some of his thoughts on education, career, and life: On his early years: “I grew up on a small farm near Lawrenceburg in southern Indiana. We didn’t earn a living on the farm, but we learned the work ethic by raising enough animals to feed ourselves and to take to market, and by growing feed and grain for the animals and tending a huge garden. I spent many hours hunting and fishing and pursuing other outdoor activities, and that background gave me an appreciation for agriculture and for the environment.” On deciding to come to Purdue: “I came to Purdue intending to be an engineer, but after the first year I didn’t find that very appealing. Some aptitude tests identified several possible majors, and I went around and talked to people in those departments. Ag Econ came across as the most interesting. I was in the first undergrad agribusiness management program and continued that focus for my master’s. I was the first in my family to come to Purdue: my four younger brothers are all Boilermakers too.” On major Purdue influences: “My Purdue education formed the basis on which I was able to build a career. Interaction with recognized leaders in agricultural economics and policy helped me find the opportunities that fit me. “Another major influence was the food service work that I did to help put myself through school. First as waiter captain and then as head waiter, I was in charge of a 90-person wait staff. It was great experience to learn how to manage people and schedules. It was very demanding in addition to my classroom work, but I also made a lot of good friends in the process.” On his career: “The most rewarding thing about my work is the opportunity to interact with national and international agricultural leaders in both public and private sectors. “The Farm Foundation serves as a catalyst, bringing a lot of people together to talk about various topics. I meet many interesting people that way. “I can really say I enjoy my work. It has brought opportunities for extensive travel in the United States and abroad. Last summer my family spent three weeks in South Africa. It is a beautiful country, with. some big challenges for agriculture and food production.” On his philosophy of life: “Look ahead, do as good a job as you can, and let the recognition come from that.” On his hopes for the future: “I hope we can produce a good quality, safe food supply for as many people in the world as possible in a manner that is environmentally conscious. Personally, I’d like to help bring people together to shape the agenda for agriculture in the future.” His advice to students: “Get a sound education to in something with basic interest to you. Then follow the leads you get and you’ll find a way to apply that knowledge to serve broader society and to find a satisfying career for yourself and your family.” Highlights/Armbruster Education B.S., Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, 1962 M.S., Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, 1964 Ph.D., Agricultural Economics, Oregon State University, 1970 Career 1978-present Farm Foundation, Oak Brook, Illinois Managing Director Associate Managing Director 1976-78 United States Department of Agriculture Staff Economist, Agricultural Marketing Service 1968-76 United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Economist, Economic Research Service Honors and Associations American Agricultural Economics Association, Past President American Agricultural Law Association, Past President International Association of Agricultural Economists, Secretary/Treasurer Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics International Food and Agribusiness Management Association North Central Rural Development Center, Board of Directors Family Dr. Armbruster’s wife, Helen, is a homemaker and does the most important job of raising their 11-year-old son, Sean, who does a little bit of everything, including playing piano and percussion in marching band, playing soccer and baseball, and singing in the church choir. Dr. Armbruster has coached the soccer team and has learned as much as his son has in that endeavor. Display quote/Armbruster “The most rewarding thing about my work is the opportunity to interact with national and international agricultural leaders in both public and private sectors. The Farm Foundation serves as a catalyst, bringing a lot of people together to talk about various topics. I meet a lot of interesting people that way.”