Kevin Vander Wal was named South Dakota State University’s 98th Little International honored agriculturalist.

A 1988 graduate of SDSU, Vander Wal’s ties to the university run deep. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences, he became the assistant manager of the SDSU Beef Unit in 1989. He then went on to become the Beef Unit’s manager in 1990. Dedicated to the facility, Vander Wal has served at the facility for 31 years, which is now known as the Cow/Calf Education and Research Facility.

Vander Wal grew up on a crops and cattle operation and was an active 4-H member as well. These experiences help lay the foundation in his interest in going into the calf management industry. He was also active in agriculture clubs and events in college; he was active in Block and Bridle and the livestock judging team, and he partook in the Little International.

Vander Wal also operates a herd of registered Shorthorn and Shorthorn Plus with his wife, Kari, and his three sons. He is on both the American and South Dakota Shorthorn Associations. He and his wife were even awarded the American Shorthorn Association Builder of the Breed award in 2015.

The Little International at SDSU is a family affair for the Vander Wals. Vander Wal exhibited in The Little International three times. His wife, Kari, beat him in the beef fitting contest their final year at SDSU. His sons were also took part in the Little International, one winning overall showman in 2017, and the other serving as the 97th Little International manager. In addition, Vander Wal’s parents were named the honored agriculturalists in 2008.

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Vander Wal has proven himself to be dedicated to South Dakota State University, going the extra mile and helping out students whenever he possibly can.

“Kevin is an individual that cares so genuinely about the education and success of his employees,” said Jaycen Timm, a three-year CCERF student employee. “He sets the example of how we should strive to be as good people and is the boss that shows that you’re appreciated, making you want to work ten times harder. He is the most influential and positive role model I’ve had here at SDSU.”