Sunday, May 6, 2007

James Tillapaugh

James Tillapaugh:

Work Ethic and Discipline

By: Joseph W. Norman

James Tillapaugh is a senior Physics major at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Growing up on a farm in Cobleskill, New York, James learned the importance of work ethic and responsibility. These two characteristics have not only made him a successful academic throughout his first twenty two years, but also an accomplished athlete. Just a summer time soccer player as a boy, James got into running thanks to his older brother Mike’s influence. Now, the sport has brought him much fulfillment and has created some of his lasting memories at Geneseo where he runs Cross Country and Track and Field.

CDS Tillapaugh, the family farm, is run by James’ father, mother, and uncle. When speaking about growing up on the farm, James said, “It was fun as a kid because you always had somewhere to go after school.” James, his brother, and his cousins would fish in the farm pond, build forts, and run around in the woods. The farm also turned out to be a bit of the inspiration for James’s academic pursuits of physics, mechanical and agricultural engineering. After graduation, James will attend Penn State University to study Agricultural Engineering.

James said that being on the farm always meant there was something that needed to be fixed. He quipped, “When the tractor is sitting in the middle of the driveway, you know something is wrong.” Throughout his life he used opportunities like this to learn how all of the machinery worked. Now he is at a point where he can problem solve these mechanical issues on his own. “Living on a farm you are expected to get your work done,” James states. When something breaks, it needs to be fixed, otherwise the business suffers.

The demands of the farm lead to a disciplined lifestyle for James, but he balances it by spending time with friends, participating in athletics, and occasionally watching some television (more at home than at school). James enjoys a few T.V. programs such as The Simpsons, The Office, and Home Improvement. Watching Nascar is another hobby for James as he occasionally takes a day off from the farm to attend a live race in the Pocono’s with his family.

In James’ spare time, he also enjoys reading farming and agriculture publications and can often be found with the used tractor and farm equipment magazine, Fastline. He sleeps between eight and nine hours a night, his favorite foods are pork chops and his mother’s meat loaf (although he did not like it as a child), and his favorite candy bar is the infamous Butterfinger.

In high school at Cobleskill – Richmondville, James was Valedictorian of his class of around 150 students. Also, he was New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Champion in the 800m run amongst C-D sized schools. He has extended this success into his college career, locking up a variety of academic awards and championship runs. His personal record of 1:53.37 in the 800m is amongst the top times for this event in his collegiate region. To James, it is not necessarily about the competition and winning. He states, “It does not define me that I have to go out and win something: It is more, I want to prove to myself that I can do it.”

This humble attitude describes the soft spoken James Tillapaugh with great accuracy. As captain of the Geneseo Cross County and Track and Field teams, he is a quiet leader that can always be counted on to get the job done. He saw this style of quiet leadership modeled by his father throughout his life on the farm. James believes an attribute of a good leader is a strong knowledge base in the task at hand and confidence in what one is doing. He reflects, “You cannot have someone telling you what to do, when they do not even know what they are doing.”

James has a consistent attitude with every activity he gets involved with and it stems from this: “When you get a job, it is your job to do and you should work on it until it is done,” he says. This approach to life has helped make James the strong, humble, reliable leader that he is today amongst his peers. Although he does not see himself as a good manager, particularly in terms of running the business end of the farm, he does have the work ethic to keep the fields plowed, the hey in the barn, and the cows milked.

This passion for farming may bring James back to CDS Tillapaugh after his tenure at Penn State, but he does not like to predict the future. Success to James is not about making “millions or billions of dollars.” Rather, he states, “Success is doing what you want to do and being content with what you have.” Reflecting on a universal truth in society, James said, “People always say they want more than they have, but you just need to be happy with what you have already got.” This principle will no doubt keep James content with his pursuits.

James A. Tillapaugh

SUNY Geneseo ‘07

B.S. Physics

Penn State University ‘09

Agricultural Engineering