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The family of Dr. Greg Lardy, Department Head, NDSU Animal Sciences and Associate VP for Agricultural Affairs, Fargo, N.D

5 questions with ... Dr. Greg Lardy, head of NDSU Animal Sciences Department and Associate VP for Agricultural Affairs, Fargo, N.D.

Q: What is your role in agriculture today?

I have two roles at North Dakota State University. I have served as department head for animal sciences since 2009 and have held a part-time role as the associate vice president for agricultural affairs since 2015. In both capacities, my role is to further the impact of NDSU agriculture. Our job is to serve the research, teaching and extension missions for our producers throughout the state. I am also responsible for personnel and budgetary management in the Animal Sciences Department, working with constituency groups throughout the state and interacting on a daily basis with students, alumni, producers and other NDSU supporters.

Q: Why did you choose an agriculture-focused academic and research career over a ranching career?

I grew up on a ranch north of Sentinel Butte, N.D., on the edge of the Badlands. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the outlook in production agriculture in western North Dakota and eastern Montana was bleak. Multiple drought years, high interest rates and poor profitability were barriers to ranching at that time. In college, I was fortunate to have mentors to guide me to graduate training at the University of Missouri and University of Nebraska. I enjoyed the academic setting. I started out in Extension, working directly with beef cattle producers. An interest in administration came later, and I found I had a skill set for that aspect as well.

Q: At NDSU and outside of NDSU, what are organizations you belong to doing to recruit more people into animal science careers?

The organization I am most heavily involved with is the American Society of Animal Science, which has about 6,000 members. I have been a member since 1991 and served as the organization's president in 2014-15. In addition to professional membership, the society focuses on student members who are undergraduate and graduate students majoring in animal science and related fields. Career opportunities are quite good right now for students interested in livestock production-related careers, especially if they are willing to be mobile. I am also a member of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, North Dakota Pork Council and North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association.

Q: What is the greatest challenge in your opinion that animal agriculture is faced with today in the U.S.?

The area of animal agriculture has been challenged to be more transparent as more and more people want to know where their food comes from and how it is raised. It is important for our producers and associated organizations to tell the story of livestock production, or others will tell it for us. From a science communication perspective, we have not done a good job in communicating these topics with the public. This needs to change if we are going to continue to meet the growing demand for protein production on a global scale.

Q: As a father raising your kids in West Fargo, N.D., how do you and your wife keep your kids connected to agriculture and understanding where their food comes from?

My wife and I both grew up in production agriculture, so conversations about farming, ranching and agriculture were routine in our house. Our kids spent time at their grandparents' farms and ranches growing up, and they were 4-H members. These experiences gave them a perspective on agriculture and food production that their friends from West Fargo may not have had.

Dr. Greg Lardy received his bachelor's degree from NDSU, his master's degree from the University of Missouri, and his doctorate in animal science from the University of Nebraska. He joined the faculty at NDSU in 1997. He and his wife, Lynae, reside in West Fargo. They are the parents of Jacob (wife: Jinny), Jarrett and JaeLyn. Connect with Dr. Lardy by email, on Facebook, Twitter: @greglardy or Instagram: greg_lardy.