UNL students organize symposium with eye on the future of livestock, protein production

cattle grazing Sandhills
Cattle grazing summer range on the Diamond Bar Ranch. Photo by Natalie Jones | IANR Communications.
May 1, 2023

Lincoln, Neb. —Graduate students in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Animal Science have organized a May 9 symposium featuring leaders in the fields of animal science, nutrition and range and forage sciences to discuss the future of animal agriculture as worldwide demand for protein grows.  

Tryon Wickersham, professor of animal nutrition at Texas A&M University, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium, titled “Sustainable Protein: The Future of Nutrition.” His talk will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Wickersham, along with UNL faculty and graduate students. Chancellor Ronnie Green will moderate the panel discussion. This event will take place on UNL’s East Campus.  

Panelists will include Galen Erickson, Nebraska Cattle Industry Professor of Animal Science; Jessie Morrill, assistant professor of meat science; Mitch Stephenson, associate professor of range and forage sciences; and Leila Venzor, meat science doctoral student.  

“Livestock production has long been a cornerstone of human nutrition, and it will be only become more important as the world population grows and demand increases,” said Tom Burkey, interim head of UNL’s Animal Science Department.  “Continuing to improve the sustainability of livestock production and to promote resilience of the landscapes that support animal agriculture will be critical to meeting growing demand for nutritious, high-quality protein.” 

Burkey credited Animal Science students, including Sam Watson, who is pursing a doctoral degree in meat science, with organizing the event after realizing there was a lack of public awareness about the nutritional benefits of animal protein, as well as of the livestock industry’s efforts to improve efficiency and resilience.  

“As future professionals in the meat science and livestock industries, our students believe it is critical to do their part to share science-based knowledge about all aspects of animal agriculture,” Burkey said.  “It’s a positive story, but one that many people, even in Nebraska, could benefit from learning more about.” 

Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said the symposium presents a learning opportunity for students throughout CASNR and across UNL, as well as for the general public. 

“In Nebraska, agriculture is our state’s largest industry, supporting one in four Nebraska jobs,” she said. “This symposium presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about the science behind the very important livestock sector of this critical industry.”  

The event will take place in the Animal Science Complex, room B101. It will also be available online at https://go.unl.edu/sustainableprotein. The symposium will begin at 4 p.m. with opening comments, followed by Wickersham’s keynote address and the keynote panel. The panel will conclude at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will follow.  

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