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WIA Members Get Seat at the Table with Dr. Temple Grandin, Renowned Animal Behaviorist and Then Some

By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Women in Agribusiness Media (May 14, 2024)


If you are in animal ag, you know the name of Dr. Temple Grandin. Long-since defining the cattle industry – her revolutionary, innovative cattle handling systems were an animal welfare game-changer in the 1970s – she also is an autism activist and distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University (CSU). Add international speaker and best-selling author to that list, and you have a visionary who is building a legendary legacy that few achieve.


Dr. Temple Grandin, distinguished professor, CSU

And all of that is built upon her overcoming severe autism symptoms as a child and plenty of bullying as a teen. Advocates and mentors empowered her journey, beginning with her mother who saw that she stayed in school and continued her education; to her aunt, with whom she lived with on her Arizona ranch, a formative experience that led Dr. Grandin to connect with animals; to her high school science teacher William Carlock, who helped her see the purpose and goals in studying which made her “buckle down and do it” [study for a career in animal science].


“Being a woman [in the cattle industry] was a much bigger barrier than being autistic,” Dr. Grandin said in her not-yet-released documentary about her life called “An Open Door”. “So I had to be very good at what I did. I showed off my drawings.” Noting that she thinks “in pictures”, which she details in several of her more than a dozen books on autism, the intricate drawings and details came to her in flashes that she fastidiously recorded to win over – with much work – the cattle industry, bringing more humane meat production practices to the sector. Working with the likes of Cargill, McDonalds, Burger King, Costco and many others, Dr. Grandin has made her mark on the industry – she is an icon.


“From the very beginning we loved her passion, her expertise, and she came in with science and objectivity,” said Bob Langert, retired VP of sustainability with McDonalds Corp., and Dr. Grandin’s former co-worker. “We trusted her 100 percent.”


Now 76 years old, Dr. Grandin is a sought-after spokesperson for autism and agriculture and has been featured in numerous publications (Time magazine, Discover magazine, Forbes, and more, and many TV shows – 60 Minutes, The Today Show, etc.), and has received several awards and accolades, including a Hollywood-made movie self-titled Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes.


“A rock star,” is how her colleagues and friends describe her. Like Janet Riley, VP of public affairs for Maple Leaf Foods Inc., “I travel with her now and we can’t get through an airport without being stopped.” And Dr. Grandin always obliges. She is happy to engage and learn more about others to see if she can help them on their path.

In keeping with her goal of “leaving as much knowledge with as many people as possible”, Dr. Grandin will share a night with WIA members at the WIA Members Only Night Out at the 2024 Women in Agribusiness Summit, which will be held in Denver, September 24-26. Attendees will be privy to a private screening of her new documentary “An Open Door”, as well as a Q&A session with Dr. Grandin, the film’s producer John Barnhardt, and CSU President Amy Parsons.


Stay tuned to next week’s WIA Today post to listen to a video interview with Dr. Grandin that talks more about her attendance at the WIA Summit and provides insight into some of the current topics affecting the ag sector.


Learn more about WIA Membership here so you can get your seat at the table with Dr. Temple Grandin at the 2024 WIA Summit (note: WIA Summit registration is required, as is WIA membership, to register for the Members Only Night Out at the Summit. Space is limited at this exclusive WIA member event at CSU so register soon).



Do you have a story you'd like to contribute to WIA Today? Or a suggestion for a story, or comments about an article? Please reach out to Michelle Marshall at and share your thoughts. We'd love to hear from you.

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