Roommates and MTSU football teammates Wilson Kelly and Seth Falley have agricultural backgrounds. Falley spent most of his life around horses and farming in his native Kansas. From rural Kentucky, Wilson grew up around animals and equipment.
When Falley and later Kelly inquired about bringing their size, strength and experience to assist at the MTSU Farm Laboratory in Lascassas, Tennessee, and the beef and swine units near the VA in Murfreesboro, Farm Labs Director Matthew Wade couldn’t say yes fast enough.
“They have fit right in with all the other student workers we have working this summer,” Wade said. “They’ve been a tremendous asset to us since they joined and been a part of our team.”
The players were looking for an active alternative away from football before summer practice begins. Wade’s always searching for outstanding student workers at the 435-acre farm — also known as the MTSU Experiential Learning and Research Center — featuring a dairy providing milk for the MTSU Creamery, crops and garden, unmanned aircraft systems research and more.
“They both have farm backgrounds. Seth jumped on the tractor the first day and took off like he’d been doing it all his life and, apparently, he had. Wilson had been on some smaller equipment. We put him on some bigger things. He proved himself well. Like many football players and athletes, they weren’t afraid of the challenge at all. They have jumped in and done a superb job for us.”
It’s been an eye-opening experience for Kelly, a 6-foot, 300-pound redshirt freshman.
“I’ve learned a lot of new things about agriculture, working with animals and running machinery. Being out on a farm is a lot more than what most people think,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but there’s the science behind it — reasons why certain things are done a certain way. Mr. Wade has helped me when I’ve not necessarily known what to do and guided me in the right direction.”
Football and ag backgrounds
Both young men are backup centers on the Blue Raiders’ offensive line, playing behind starter Jordan Palmer.
Falley, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior from Haysville, Kansas, transferred to MTSU in January from Butler Community College. He entered MTSU with a 3.2 GPA and is an agribusiness major in the School of Agriculture. He keeps a pocket knife handy and wears a cowskin holster that holds a pair of pliers he often uses.
Falley grew up working with horses, maintenance and machinery at Rainbow Meadows Equine Rescue & Retirement, a business co-owned by his aunt, Karen Everhart, and uncle, David Everhart, in Junction City, Kansas. His late grandfather, Bill Eastman, owned 500 acres — where Falley checked cows and fixed fences, spraying and more — on land family now maintains in southeast Kansas.
“I actually didn’t grow up on a farm, but I always had the interest and always wanted to get into it — and now I have that opportunity here,” Falley said.
“We’ve been cutting a lot of hay, getting ready for hay season. I started in the winter when I got here, just caring for animals, tractor running, long, hot days, but it’s all worth it when you know what you’re doing. Recently, I’ve stepped into more of a management role. That’s sort of what I want to do in the future, be a ranch manager.”
The management role Wade has allowed Falley to pursue includes scheduling student workers, pasture organization and land management.
A Danville, Kentucky, native, Kelly has a 3.4 GPA as a construction management major, but may switch back to an agriculture major. With football, he has traveled and established relationships.
“It sparked my interest,” Kelly said of the opportunity to work at the farm. “I figured Seth and I could work together and it would be fun and put a little money in our pocket and also learn a lot more about the agriculture industry and the great program MT has here. It’s been a great experience so far.”