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MEEKER I A full day of fun, agricultural education and entertainment is on the slate for April 26, starting with the second annual Ag and Business Summit, in which a number of classes will touch on agricultural issues.
Following the morning and early afternoon of classes, the renowned Temple Grandin will be featured speaker at the summit, which will be held at Meeker High School. Saturday night is the annual After Birth Ball.
The Ag and Business Summit is organized by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce and the Meeker Friends of FFA Alumni.
The all-day summit, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will provide 16 classes to choose from, covering a variety of topics related to agriculture, media and business.
A midday break will feature a “State of the Community” presentation and lunch provided by the FFA.
The summit will culminate with guest speaker Temple Grandin at 4 p.m.
Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock-handling facilities and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Facilities she has designed are located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.
In North America, according to her website, almost half of the cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system she designed for meat plants. Curved chute and race systems she has designed for cattle are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many people to reduce stress on their animals during handling.
She has also developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This scoring system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal welfare. Other areas of her research are: cattle temperament, environmental enrichment for pigs, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility, training procedures and effective stunning methods for cattle and pigs at meat plants.
She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at Franklin Pierce College and her Master of Science degree in animal science at Arizona State University. Dr. Grandin received her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989.
Today, she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling and animal welfare.
She has appeared on television shows such as “20/20,” “48 Hours,” “Larry King Live,” “PrimeTime Live,” “60 Minutes,” “The Today Show” and many shows in other countries. She has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Time Magazine, the New York Times book review, and Discover magazine.
In 2010, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people on earth. Interviews with Dr. Grandin have been broadcast on National Public Radio and she has a 2010 TED lecture titled “The World Needs ALL Kinds of Minds.” She has also authored more than 400 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare and facility design. She is the author of “Thinking in Pictures,” “Livestock Handling and Transport,” “Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals,” and “Humane Livestock Handling.”
Her books “Animals in Translation” and “Animals Make Us Human” were both on the New York Times best seller list. “Animals Make Us Human” was also on the Canadian best seller list.
Her life story has also been made into an HBO movie titled “Temple Grandin,” staring Claire Danes, which won seven Emmy awards and a Golden Globe. The movie shows her life as a teenager and how she started her career.
Regarding autism, it is said, “If algebra had been a required course for college graduation in 1967, there would be no Temple Grandin.
“I probably would have been a handyman, fixing toilets at some apartment building somewhere,” said Grandin, 66. “I can’t do algebra. It makes no sense. Why does algebra have to be the gateway to all the other mathematics?”
Fortunately, the academic trend in the late 1960s was finite math, a course Grandin passed with the help of tutors and devoted study, satisfying her college math requirement.
Grandin didn’t talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized.
She tells her story of “groping her way from the far side of darkness” in her book “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” a book that stunned the world because, until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed that an autism diagnosis was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life.
Grandin writes and speaks on the subject of autism because “I have read enough to know that there are still many parents, and yes, professionals too, who believe that ‘once autistic, always autistic.’ This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people, it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. However, I feel strongly that I am living proof that they can.”
Even though she was considered “weird” in her young school years, she eventually found a mentor who recognized her interests and abilities.
Dr. Grandin later developed her talents into a successful career as a livestock-handling equipment designer, one of very few in the world.
She has now designed the facilities in which half the cattle are handled in the United States.
Temple Grandin is now the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. Adults are $10, ages 4-12 are $5 and children 3 and under are free.