One Man's Passion to Educate on Animal Agriculture

By Annel K. Greene, PhD, Center Director, Clemson University, Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center

Extension Livestock Specialist Dr. Harold Hupp, a member of the Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) team, works to educate the next generation of agribusiness managers, scientists, lawyers, politicians, and decision makers on the animal industry and rendered animal co-products. A native of Ohio, Hupp earned degrees from Wilmington College, the University of Kentucky, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. As a member of the Cooperative Extension Service – a joint venture of federal, state, and local agencies – Hupp is part of a vast network of educators throughout the entire United States and its territories. He teaches scientific principles to lay audiences via one-on-one instruction, live audience presentations, and distance education technologies such as educational television and the Internet.

The importance of animal agricultural education was recognized early in the development of the United States. Many of the first colleges and universities founded in this country were heavily oriented towards agricultural research and education. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law that set forth the formation of land grant colleges in each state. Each land grant college/university was charged with providing agricultural education in exchange for federal support. In 1887, the Hatch Experiment Station Act provided funding and created a working relationship between land grant college/university researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which had been previously established in 1862. In 1914, Georgia Senator Hoke Smith and South Carolina Representative Asbury Francis “Frank” Lever sponsored the Smith-Lever Act.

Lever was a lifetime member of the board of trustees of Clemson College, later to be known as Clemson University. He recognized that agricultural colleges/universities and the USDA held a wealth of vital information but that information was not being relayed to the farmer. Lever realized that a mechanism for taking this information to the agricultural communities would cause “a complete and absolute revolution in the social, economic, and financial condition of our rural population.” (Parsons, Sam. 2004. Clemson World Online vol. 57, no. 2.)

Lever was further quoted as stating, “The agent in the field of the Department [of Agriculture] and the college is to be the mouthpiece through which this information will reach the people – the man and woman and the boy and girl on the farm. You cannot make the farmer change the methods which have been sufficient to earn a livelihood for himself and his family for many years unless you show him, under his own vine and fig tree as it were, that you have a system better than the system which he himself has been following.” (Parsons)

Therefore, passage of the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension Service, a network of educators located in convenient, readily accessible locations across the entire United States via the land grant colleges/universities. These extension educators provide practical, accurate agriculturally related information to the American public. They are responsible for collecting and collating cutting edge scientific information from the research arm of land grant universities and presenting that information to the lay public in a manner that is factual and easily understood. In addition, the Cooperative Extension Service works with youth to introduce the next generation of agricultural leaders to various aspects of agribusiness.

Hupp has been an active participant in ACREC since its inception. Although he has not requested funding from the center, Hupp conducts numerous adult and youth extension programs in which he provides information concerning the rendering industry and its importance to animal agriculture. As advisor to several Clemson University student clubs, he also is integrally involved with animal science undergraduate and graduate students. Hupp is passionate about education and animal agriculture. He specializes in beef cattle livestock production but coordinates and collaborates with other extension agents across all species of livestock and poultry production.

Hupp has developed a number of workshops in conjunction with extension specialists, extension agents, and industry leaders. Each workshop attendee receives a detailed information notebook, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations. Cow College 1 – The Basics, a series of eight two-hour modules, was originally presented via educational television to numerous county extension offices. The audience for this basic course has ranged from novice to seasoned cattle producers. Hupp continues the knowledge transfer with his Cow College II – Stockering, which teaches best management practices for a stockering operation in five two-hour modules. Again, this is presented via educational television and in group presentations. Another program Hupp presents is the South Carolina Beef Quality Assurance Program, which is taught in three two-hour modules and includes information on best management practices on beef quality and herd health. He is currently converting all workshop materials to compact disc and Internet format for asynchronous distance educational opportunities.

In the Junior Cattlemen’s Contest, which is held at the annual Junior Beef Round-Up, youth and adults are challenged via contests on knowledge of beef animal production and management. The contest has five subject areas and five age groups. Participants range from “novice,” at under 10 years of age, to “ma and pa,” those participants over the age of 21. In preparation for this fun contest, Hupp and other extension agents teach a variety of information on animal agriculture. Hupp also conducts a school on artificial insemination of cattle to teach both classroom and hands-on experience to college students and regional cattlemen.

Without livestock and poultry, there would be no rendering. And without rendering, the slaughter industry would be inundated with millions of pounds of residual tissues that would in turn negatively impact the animal producer. Hupp teaches the mutual importance of these affiliated industries to new faces young and old with new extension education programs. Through other programs such as Knowledge College, Hupp and the other extension agents have an opportunity to spread information to an eager audience. Youth educational programs such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) allow educational opportunities for teaching America’s youth. As the United States becomes more urban, these traditionally rural programs are beginning to reach new audiences through 4-H and FFA programs integrated into schools. With the interconnection of the Cooperative Extension Service throughout the nationwide land grant university system, educational materials developed in South Carolina can be utilized throughout the country by other extension agents. Hupp has been a leader in reaching all age groups, from all walks of life, with sound, fact-based information concerning animal agriculture.

Newer communication technologies have revolutionized the work of extension educators and allowed for even further dissemination of information. However, the information era of the Internet has also provided readily significant sources of misinformation and distortion to the lay public. For nearly 100 years, the Cooperative Extension Service has been an effective tool for providing reliable and trustworthy information. News agencies are familiar with the work of the Cooperative Extension Service system and often seek verification of facts from extension educators. Hupp has been at the forefront of developing educational programs using new communication technologies. Through these media, he finds new ways to rapidly transmit new information to consumers. He is very eager to prepare further information related to animal co-products for dissemination to the general public. Sometimes described as the “silent industry,” rendering is often misunderstood due to inaccurate information. Hupp and the nationwide network of extension agents are powerful tools for distributing accurate information on the benefits of rendering for the environment, the economy, and as the gatekeeper of animal health.

Hupp is an active member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the South Carolina Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Pickens County Cattlemen’s Association, and Epsilon Sigma Phi, which is the professional society of extension associates. Hupp has served on the Clemson University Extension Senate and is the 2008 Extension Senate President. He has received numerous educator awards and was presented a Faculty Award of Excellence from the Clemson University Board of Trustees.

The Clemson University ACREC is very proud to have Hupp working to educate the public on animal agriculture and the rendering industry. He is one of the conduits by which knowledge developed in ACREC can be conveyed to the lay public not just in South Carolina, but across the entire nation.

ACREC Solutions – August 2008 RENDER | back