AMES, Iowa — Curt Youngs, professor of animal science, has been named the newest Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Animal Agriculture, effective Feb. 1.
He is the third faculty member in Iowa State’s Department of Animal Science to hold this endowed chair title, made possible through the Marion Eugene and Audrey H. Ensminger Endowment for Animal Science. Youngs is preceded by David Topel, former dean of the College of Agriculture, and current endowed chair holder Max Rothschild, distinguished professor in agriculture and life sciences.
“Dr. Youngs’ extensive background in international agriculture makes him a great fit for this endowed faculty position,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the Endowed Dean’s Chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “His work as the Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Animal Agriculture will build on the great work of Drs. Topel and Rothschild, and further position our college to be actively globally engaged on behalf of our students and faculty. It will also help maintain Iowa’s key place in the arena of international agriculture and food.”
Youngs joined Iowa State’s animal science faculty in 1989 and has an extensive background in international work. He has spent time in 15 foreign countries in four continents teaching and conducting research about animal reproduction. Highlights of his international work include training a scientist who conducted Kosovo’s first successful bovine embryo transfer and co-developing an animal science bachelor’s degree program in the Republic of Georgia.
“I became heavily involved in international animal agriculture because global food insecurity has reached epidemic proportions,” Youngs said. “I want to use my knowledge, skills, and abilities to help empower others to more efficiently produce food in order to reduce hunger, malnutrition, and deaths due to starvation.”
John Patience, interim chair of the animal science department, said Youngs’ enthusiasm for international agriculture makes him a great fit for the endowed chair position.
“It was a very popular choice by the department,” Patience said of Youngs being selected for the endowed chair position. “He has certainly demonstrated a strong and committed interest in developing international agriculture. He’s delighted to be appointed, and I know he will do very well.”
As holder of the endowed chair, Youngs will use the endowment funds to organize international training events and activities related to agriculture, including Ensminger Schools – two-day schools that take place in various countries to teach local faculty, students, industry and farmers about animal science topics. Ensminger Schools have taken place in Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, South Africa and Spain.
In 2014, Youngs participated in an Ensminger School in Peru focused on advancing modern animal production. In 2015, he provided theoretical and hands-on practical training in livestock reproductive technologies at the Peruvian Association of Animal Production annual meetings. Then in 2016, Youngs traveled to Honduras to participate in the Ensminger School’s efforts involving cattle production in Central America. In 2018, he conducted a short course on embryo cryopreservation at La Molina University in Peru. Additionally, he frequently has taught short courses and workshops at the University of Prishtina’s International Summer University two-week program in Kosovo.
Patience said the endowment will help fulfill the department’s and the college’s commitment to international agriculture development and help expose Iowa State faculty and students to agriculture around the world.
“Being named the next Ensminger Chair is like a dream come true for me,” Youngs said. “It will allow me to invest more time and energy into a topic about which I am incredibly passionate. The Ensminger endowment will provide me with stable funding not only to maintain and enhance existing global agriculture efforts, but also to initiate innovative programs that can positively impact the lives of people in developing nations.”
Marion Eugene Ensminger was known for his work in animal agriculture education and served as a faculty member at the University of Illinois, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Minnesota, and Washington State University.
Ensminger’s ties to Iowa State stem from assistance Topel provided him in developing a series of seminars for Russia. The two later worked together to create similar programs in Ukraine, Cuba and China.
In addition to making possible the Ensminger International Chair and Ensminger School Program, the endowment left by Marion and Audrey Ensminger finances the Ensminger International Seminar room in Kildee Hall.
— Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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