I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Howard Doster as a Teaching Assistant with the Purdue Top Farmer Workshop. I attended Purdue from 1987 to 1989 to complete my master’s degree. I really enjoyed seeing Dr. Doster interact with the audience to gauge farmer sentiment on the current outlook. He was skilled to bring out comparisons from past years – this allowed an objective assessment to determine if the outlook was getting better (or not). He was effective in bringing out that discussion and points. In my work beyond Purdue, I used the concept that I learned from Dr. Doster. I called it the “Doster Index” and I used it many times (e.g. status meeting for software development project). The use of comparisons from past period helped to get feedback and to understand concerns that team members had. When using the “Doster Index”, I explained the interaction that Dr. Doster had with the Top Farmer group. I really enjoyed working and interacting with Dr. Doster. He had such a positive attitude and interest in other people. I appreciated the interest and support that he provided me. Stephen Sharpe.
Howard was was traveling between Waynesville and Lafayette on Interstate 74 when he spotted a small shed being constructed on the opposite side of the Interstate so he did a U-turn to get a better look. However, the Indiana State Police didn’t approve of his maneuver and pulled him over. He wasn’t going to let this photo opportunity pass him by so he jumped out of the car, waving his arms and saying, “Don’t shoot!” as he opened his trunk to get to his new digital camera he had picked up in China. Meanwhile a second trooper pulled up behind this suspicious vehicle and driver. Once he discovered one of the trooper’s daughter was attending Purdue things warmed up. In fact, that trooper told Howard, “I can’t give you a ticket, but my buddy will!” (I’ve posted a picture of this event on this site. At that time he didn’t know how to download photos from his camera.)
I think about Howard Doster every time I consult the documentation for farmland property assessment on the Department of Local Government Finance website (here: https://www.in.gov/dlgf/7016.htm ). Back in 1998 the Indiana Supreme Court required Indiana to change the way property was assessed for taxes. In 1999 Howard Doster and John Huie wrote a memo describing how farmland could be assessed, to be consistent with the Court’s requirements. The DLGF adopted the method, and includes the memo in their reference materials when they announce the new farmland base rate every year. It’s on pages 10 to 14 of the 2020 document. It’s just one small project in a lifetime of effort, but that’s several hundred million dollars of tax bills and local government revenue, all based on Howard’s work.