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Campus celebration for Dr. Temple Grandin

October 5, 2011
Coleman Cornelius

Temple Grandin, famed animal sciences professor, will be feted during A Celebration of Dr. Temple Grandin on Tuesday. The event is open to students, faculty and staff. (Rosalie Winard photo)Leaders of the global food industry praised Temple Grandin, CSU's world-renowned animal scientist and autism advocate, in advance of a campus celebration in her honor on Tuesday, hailing the professor for helping to make livestock welfare an industry priority.

"She has brought a sea change to how animals are treated in our industry. It's awesome," said Bob Langert, vice president for corporate social responsibility at McDonald's Corp. "She’s put animal welfare on the map at a much higher level."

Langert was among the speakers at the Tuesday celebration of Grandin.

Hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences, the campus celebration included refreshments, displays, a tribute video, and a question-and-answer session with Grandin.

Grandin has built her stellar career over more than 20 years teaching and conducting research in CSU's Department of Animal Sciences. Yet the past year has been remarkable, Craig Beyrouty, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, noted.

2010 a big year for Grandin

In 2010, HBO released a biographical feature film called "Temple Grandin" based on the CSU professor's early life; the movie won seven Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. Also last year, Grandin earned a spot on TIME magazine's list of "100 Most Influential People in the World."

These developments have helped catapult Grandin to fame.

Video tribute

Grandin, who has autism, is an eminent animal scientist who specializes in livestock behavior and has pioneered the field of farm-animal welfare. Her innovations in humane handling equipment and auditing systems have changed the livestock industry, both improving producer profitability and assuring consumers about the integrity of the food system.

Working with industry

Langert, of McDonald's, said he began working with Grandin in 1997. Their interaction led the global food retailer to adopt Grandin's welfare auditing system, which uses key indicators in livestock behavior to ensure that food animals are treated humanely during transportation and processing at meat-packing plants.

"Today humane animal welfare is standard operating procedure for all of our suppliers around the world," Langert said. "Can you imagine one person, by herself, having that kind of impact?"

Likewise, JBS, the world’s leading food-animal processor, has worked closely with Grandin to design livestock handling facilities and to monitor humane handling practices at its plants, including its large and well-known facility in Greeley.

"We’ve learned from Temple that proper animal handling is not only what's best for the livestock, it also contributes to meat quality," said Leonard Huskey, director of animal welfare and handling for JBS. "It's important for most consumers to know that livestock are being handled appropriately and with respect. That’s what they expect of us."

Grandin often makes clear that she is not a vegetarian, but fervently believes food animals should be treated with respect. This passion stems from the unique bond Grandin has developed with animals.

Autism advocate

Temple GrandinHer work in animal welfare is intertwined with her autism: Grandin says her autism allows her to think visually – or to "think in pictures" – which has given her insights into livestock behavior and has helped her to design systems that advance livestock welfare.

Through the course of her career, Grandin, an acclaimed author and speaker, has inspired people around the world as a champion for people with autism and their families. A key message in many of her talks is that, in her words, "the world needs all kinds of minds."

That’s clear in her work with global food companies.

Grandin was instrumental in developing livestock handling guidelines for the food industry, Huskey said. In fact, guidelines she developed have been so widely adopted by producers, processors and retailers, they are considered "the industry bible," he said.

"I don’t think anyone in the industry would consider a major design change or improvement without consulting with Temple," Huskey said.

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Contact: Coleman Cornelius
Phone: (970) 491-2392