New Agricultural Extension Economist Feels Right at Home

AMES, Iowa – As Lee Schulz made his way from home in central Wisconsin to college (earning a B.S. at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, M.S. at Michigan State University and Ph.D. from Kansas State University) to career (Iowa State University), one thing was clear: there’s no place he’d rather be than working for a land-grant university in the Midwest.

As a youngster on his family’s cow-calf farm near Rosholt, Wis., ISU Extension and Outreach’s new livestock economist first became acquainted with extension through 4-H and FFA activities like showing cattle, and meat and livestock judging. That understanding and appreciation of extension continued as Schulz’s agricultural interests expanded.

“I learned the importance of extension in providing valuable information and education to producers and the general public,” he said. “I’ve always been impressed by the quality of information and support provided by extension services, and throughout my undergraduate and graduate experience I sought out opportunities to be involved myself.”

During his undergraduate years, Schulz worked with an extension agricultural marketing specialist on livestock marketing and price analysis for Wisconsin cattle producers. While at Michigan State he assisted producers with learning to use mandatory electronic identification to enhance profitability, and his thesis research identified perceptions and preferences of cow-calf producers for voluntary traceability systems.

But it was his doctoral program experience at Kansas State that solidified his desire to continue to work with producers through extension and research efforts.

“Some of the projects I worked on were fed cattle trade and pricing and changing governmental regulations; feeder cattle and retail beef pricing; and animal welfare, handling and performance in the U.S. swine industry,” Schulz said. “I’ve also worked with the economics of regional control and eradication of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, or PRRS.”

All of this helped lead him to Iowa State, where his role is to provide leadership in studying critical issues that are relevant to Iowa and the U.S. livestock industry. This includes developing an extension education curriculum and the production of decision tools to meet the education, information and analysis needs of farmers, livestock industry representatives and consumers.

“My appointment is 65 percent extension, 20 percent research and 15 percent teaching, and involves active interaction with other ISU units like the Iowa Pork Industry Center and the Iowa Beef Center,” Schulz said. “Because I’ll work with a diverse clientele, I expect to use a variety of delivery methods like Internet, extension publications, peer-reviewed journals and conferences.”

Schulz began his job as ISU Extension and Outreach livestock economist the first week in May and already has met with a number of people on and off campus to get better acquainted and to share his goals. He said he’s looking forward to meeting many more in the coming weeks, and invited people to contact him via email at about his availability to speak at meetings, workshops and conferences.