Learn more about one of the greatest change-makers in ag extension and how he's impacted agricultural education.
Dr. Ron Gill has deep roots in ranching. Growing up on a ranch in West Texas, he attended Angelo State University where he received a degree in animal science. He then stayed on to complete a master’s in range nutrition.
“I kept dabbling in livestock,” says Dr. Gill, alluding to his time at Angelo State. When he wasn’t studying, he worked gathering wild goats and cattle. This dabbling turned into a full-fledged, and very successful, career in the cattle industry. Today, Dr. Gill trains extension agents as a Livestock Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. He also serves as the associate department head for extension programs in animal science at Texas A&M University. He also manages 3,000 acres of ranch property and actively works with cattle producers and ranchers across the state and nation.
After receiving a PhD from A&M in horse nutrition, Dr. Gill began his extension work in horse and cattle in the Dallas area in 1984. Since then, he’s seen a lot of changes in the industry and has often been at the front lines ensuring the right changes take place, especially in the area of chute-side manners and best practices.
Livestock Experience and Research
“Dr. Gill epitomizes the idea of the extension system,” says Bill Holcombe, who, as a county extension agent in Clay County, has worked with Dr. Gill for years. “He takes research-proven data and presents it to the general public in meaningful and useful ways.”
One way Dr. Gill has done this is with livestock vaccines. In 1991, Dr. Gill began pioneering the industry in vaccine handling by redesigning his Styrofoam cooler used to store vaccines. By cutting holes into the side of it, he created a type of holster for his syringe guns. This protected the vaccines from damaging UV rays and helped regulate their temperature.
It was this model that our designers at PIERCE used to help design our new rotomolded vaccine cooler, VaxMate.
Dr. Gill says it’s been rewarding to see his idea from so many years ago come to fruition and see producers really trying to do things the right way. That’s not something Dr. Gill has taken lightly in his career—doing things the right way—but he understands that new ideas and concepts can take a while to catch on throughout an entire industry.
“So you have to have a little patience and try to just keep working at it and chipping at it,” he explains.
Beef Safety and Quality Assurance
In addition to vaccines and chute-side manners, Dr. Gill was one of the pioneers of the Texas Beef Safety and Quality Assurance Program that launched in 2001—a program that has been instrumental in increasing beef demand throughout the state.
Now with his role at Texas A&M, Dr. Gill has the opportunity to pass on his knowledge and experience in the industry with students.
Working with students has been interesting, says Dr. Gill. “Those kids are really interested in a new or different approach to doing things…they’re looking for a better way to handle livestock.” Sounds like somebody else we know.
With Dr. Gill’s experience and extensive resume, with his care for livestock and the industry as a whole, Texans can rest assured that the next generation of beef producers is learning from the best.