Faculty Spotlight: Jesse Fulton

Jesse Fulton
Meet Jesse Fulton, an Extension Educator on the beef systems team and the director of the Nebraska BQA program.
June 7, 2022

Tell us about yourself. 

I grew up in the Kentucky foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In Kentucky, most people just refer to the county they are from, in that case, I am from Lewis County (Tollesboro/Vanceburg area). My family has always raised beef calf and a garden, which I guess I could say started my interest in agriculture. For my grandparents on both sides, agriculture was their livelihood. Beef cattle, dairy cattle and tobacco are the three industries I was raised around. I was also raised around numerous beef cattle and tobacco operations where I was the neighbor kid who “always wanted to help”. I’m not sure if I contributed much, but through that “help”, I found my love for agriculture, especially the beef industry. I earned my bachelor’s degree in animal science from Morehead State University and my master’s in 2016 from South Dakota State University, where I focused in meat science.  

After graduate school, I served as the Director of Producer Education at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in Denver, Colorado, where I met my wife Brittany (Schaneman) Fulton. We married in October 2020.

At NCBA, I helped put together education material and events for beef producers across the nation. I also worked with the National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and the Stockmanship & Stewardship program. However, being a small-town guy my whole life, Denver living wasn’t for me. Luckily a position with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln opened with the opportunity for Brittany and I to be located in Brittany’s hometown of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

We are thrilled to be in, or in Brittany’s case, back in Nebraska. Being back in her hometown, we are near her family and their sheep and row crop operation. In January of 2022, we welcomed our first born, Olivia Lynn. 

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I am an Extension Educator on the beef systems team and the director of the Nebraska BQA program. BQA is a nationally coordinated and state implemented program. With my knowledge of National BQA from working at NCBA, I came in ready to make the Nebraska BQA program one of the best in the nation. I manage the Nebraska BQA training network of extension educators and veterinarians across the state making sure they have the materials to complete a successful BQA training. I also work to plan and schedule BQA trainings across the state as well as other educational events.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

My love for the beef industry is what brought me to Nebraska. BQA is active in over 40 states across the nation. However, Nebraska is largely credited for where the producer facing side of the BQA program first stated. With our nickname being “The Beef State”, and where the producer component of the program initially started, I knew the opportunity to direct the state BQA program was something I would enjoy. Furthermore, the agriculture industry is vital to Nebraska. Because of this, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln ensures strong support for all the agriculture facing programs. I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

I love to teach, share my passion for the beef industry, and how important agriculture is. When I was at NCBA, I helped lead all of the industry tours for participants inside and outside of the organization because of my “natural teaching abilities”, I was told.

To be straightforward, at one point in time we were all learning. When I educate, I determine the knowledge level of the group and never “talk down” to them. I don’t want those I am educating to ever feel they are asking a stupid question. When we are educating, there is never a stupid question.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My true achievement is my family, our new baby girl, and having a small place she can grow up as a “farm girl”. From a professional standpoint, my maturity as a speaker, educator and professional. Everything I have done in my career I see as an achievement, from growing up in the backwoods of Kentucky, to standing on the national stage of the beef industry educating producers. No one believes me, but at one point in time, I was a shy and timid backwoods kid. Now, it is nothing for me to get up on stage in front of a thousand producers or go on national TV to discuss programs I am affiliated with.  While I’m not with a national organization anymore, through hard work and determination, Nebraska BQA is often used as a “state BQA program model”. There are some states who are working to “revamp” their BQA programs and they are using Nebraska BQA as their guide.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

I was a “Make a Wish” kid and got to sit on one of the orcas at Sea World.

What is your life like outside of work?

Work never stops, haha! We have a small acreage with horses, which means there is always something to work on or fix. It’s something I actually enjoy. There is something about being handing and working on stuff around your place that makes you feel good. We are also significantly involved in Brittany’s parents’ operation. I always make the joke that “I’m just the IT guy” hoping to weasel my way out of making any of the “hard decisions”. When there is a time we aren’t working, I love spending time with friends and family, riding the horses, target practice, and hunting. There is a quote, “I never met a Kentuckian who wasn't either thinking about going home or actually going home”. I can say this is true. We try to get back to Kentucky as much as we can to see my family and lifelong friends. I’m also a big movie watcher and can binge Netflix and HULU with the best of them, after the sun goes down of course.

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