Although the current concern for area cattle producers is the drought, the new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist in southwest Iowa says his background and experience will help him build a program that's beneficial to all facets of the industry.
"I'll strive to develop and deliver Extension and outreach programs to educate members of the beef industry with the latest research-based information whatever the focus," says Chris Clark. "The goal is to improve food quality and safety, producer profitability, animal quality, animal productivity and animal welfare."
He recognizes that producer concerns, weather patterns, market issues and disease outbreaks will tend to dictate his attention to some extent, but says he wants to take a big picture view and look at management, animal health, minimizing animal stress and maximizing animal production.
A veterinarian, he is very familiar with problems Iowa livestock producers face
"I learned a tremendous amount in veterinary school at Iowa State and after receiving my DVM, I was able to build on that education while practicing for several years. I also have college teaching experience and that has allowed me to become more comfortable with public speaking and instructing," Clark says. "I feel this job is a great opportunity to combine my love of beef cattle with my teaching ability."
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~As a native Iowan, Clark credits his upbringing with helping guide his professional path, starting with livestock production at an early age. "We lived on a farm near Albia until I was in my mid-teens and though my father got out of farming then, we lived on a small acreage and I continued to show livestock in 4-H," he says. "I really liked showing beef cattle. I didn't have anything fancy, but I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I dreamed of developing my own herd and raising show cattle and seed stock. Hopefully someday I can make that happen."
Livestock, 4-H and ISU are part of his heritage, and family is involved in farming
Clark says livestock, 4-H and ISU are "in his blood." "My grandfather farmed for years, a couple uncles still farm in Monroe County and another uncle works in sales in the animal health industry. Both my parents were in 4-H as they grew up and actually met at 4-H camp. My father and his siblings all attended Iowa State University," he notes. "After exploring several career options I graduated from ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004."
Clark's first few weeks on the job have provided several opportunities to learn more about his new position and the beef industry. "I attended the three-state bus tour with Joe Sellers and a group of producers and agribusiness people earlier this summer, in July; we have been holding drought meetings this summer; and we are setting up a study at the Lewis farm," says Clark. "There are several other things on the horizon including the four state beef conference, some outlook meetings and a meeting with EPA representatives."
Clark adds, "My appointment is 75% Extension and 25% applied research, and my office is at the Lewis Research Farm in southwest Iowa. I'm extremely excited about this new position and the chance to help Iowa beef producers. I look forward to meeting and working with them."