We are now a few weeks into classes, and so far, so good. A year ago it would have been hard to imagine that students across campus would nearly all be seen wearing masks, and that Trowbridge Livestock Center would become perhaps the most important teaching space on campus (you can read more about that here in this issue!)
Even the field days at our outlying farms and centers have gone virtual. Thompson farm, closely associated with the Division’s applied reproduction and genomics research program, held its virtual field day on September 24, and the content can be viewed here: thompson.missouri.edu/field-day.
Animal Sciences has been going through a time of transition and renewal. Just three years ago, there were two Assistant, four Associate and 17 Professors among the Division’s 23 tenure-track faculty members. Now 15 of the 28 tenure-track faculty members are at the Assistant or Associate rank. In addition, three senior members of the Division, Drs. R. Michael Roberts, David Patterson and Jerry Taylor, have partially retired but continue to serve as Chancellor’s Professors. Mike Smith and Jeff Firman have retired this year after serving MU for their entire careers, and Carol Lorenzen has assumed the responsibilities of Department Head in Animal and Rangeland Sciences at Oregon State University.
Our student recruiting efforts have been effective. The Division’s target for student numbers in each class (first-time college plus transfers students) is 160. This fall we hit 157, an increase of nearly 10% from last year. We have increased our emphasis on recruiting through bringing students to campus for events such as Animal Sciences Exploration Day, judging clinics and contests, and Youth Leadership Academy. We have a renewed emphasis in livestock judging and Tawnie DeJong, evaluation instructor and livestock judging team coach, has been active in recruiting students at county fairs across the state and at the Missouri State Fair Youth Livestock Show. New this year was Fantasy Feedout, an event that the Division co-sponsored with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and MFA, Inc. Nearly 300 students from FFA chapters across the state came to MU to learn about cattle feeding, and each chapter chose a steer based on their prediction of its profitability from among those entered in the MCA Top 100 Performance Challenge at South Farm. The Knob Noster FFA chapter was the winner and was recognized at an awards ceremony at Sydenstricker Genetics. Members of the winning team each received a $500 scholarship contingent on attending MU and choosing a major in CAFNR.
Everett Forkner, an Animal Sciences alum and former CAFNR Columns Award winner, has established an endowment to support the Livestock Judging Team as part of his recognition as the 2020 Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery honoree, which we highlighted in our last newsletter. Contributions can be made here: mizzougivedirect.missouri.edu.
We are saddened by the recent passing of our friends and colleagues Drs. John Sikes, John Massey, Gary Allee and Clif Murphy. Dr. Sikes had an active research program in animal reproduction. Production of a calf through in vitro fertilization in his laboratory was a major news story. Dr. Sikes also touched the lives of many students through his teaching, advising and coaching of the Dairy Judging Team. Drs. Sikes and Murphy partnered to perform embryo transfers on farms across the state. Dr. Murphy prowled the halls of the ASRC until only a few months ago, continuing to work with students in Dr. Prather’s program. Dr. Massey had a major impact on the Missouri beef industry through his Extension efforts to increase adoption of performance testing, before retiring to a ranch in southwest Missouri. Dr. Allee served the Division as Unit Leader and Professor. He made major contributions to swine nutrition and trained many graduate students who continue in leadership roles in swine nutrition worldwide. Each of these individuals earned degrees from the Division and continued to give back through scholarship funds.
Despite the challenges to transitioning to on-line teaching and mostly working from home this year, I believe we have largely been successful in serving our students and stakeholders. Our research success has been remarkable under the circumstances. Nevertheless, we recognize that it has been an extraordinarily stressful year for our students and faculty as well as individuals in the livestock industry. If there are ways that we can serve you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As always, we enjoy hearing from you. Please drop us a note to let us know what and how you are doing.
Director, Division of Animal Sciences