Melissa Bartels joins Extension in Butler and Polk Counties

Melissa Bartels joins Extension in Butler and Polk Counties November 2, 2018

Waverly native Melissa Bartels recently joined Nebraska Extension as a crop and water systems educator for Butler and Polk counties. Her office is in the Butler County Courthouse in David City where she can be reached at 402-367-7410 or by emailing

Melissa Bartels
Melissa Bartels

Bartels said she’s excited to be working with growers in her area and looks forward to helping them find research-based answers to their crop production and water management questions.

Her career path began when she was pursuing her BS degree at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She worked in the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s sorghum plant pathology laboratory looking at hybrids with increased resistance to Fusarium that produced mycotoxins.

“It was fascinating to study the whole system of plants and pathogens. Sometimes they coexist and sometimes the pathogen takes over the plant. I wondered if this was career worthy and from my work I realized I wanted to go into plant science.”

Bartels continued her studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, receiving M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology. Her graduate research focused on the evolutionary rate of wheat streak mosaic virus and triticum mosaic virus in wheat and closely related hosts. While pursuing her graduate degrees, she worked in the USDA ARS wheat virology lab.

After graduating she worked in Idaho as the Syngenta Seed Quality Control Manager for seed health testing for vegetables for North America. She was a part of the US International Seed Health Initiative, and worked with the National Seed Health Society on Syngenta becoming an accredited seed health testing laboratory.

A little over two years ago she and her husband, Ryan, decided to move back to Nebraska to be closer to family. She worked at the Bayer CropScience Wheat Breeding and Trait Development facility near Goehner and at the Syngenta Seed corn production site near Phillips before joining Extension.

As a youth, Bartels was heavily involved in horse 4-H in Lancaster County and when she graduated out of the program, she volunteered as a 4-H leader and later as a judge at area fairs.

Outside the office she enjoys trail riding, judging horse shows and giving riding lessons to the local youth in Lancaster County. She also enjoys gardening, caring for her family pets of two mastiffs and three cats, and antiquing with her husband.