When Iowa State University animal science professor Ken Stalder received word that he was the 2012 recipient of the National Swine Improvement Federation's Charles Stanislaw Memorial Distinguished Service Award, it was a moment to remember.
"It's pretty cool to receive this award and be listed among many great people involved in swine breeding that have received this award previously. And yet, of all the awards I've received over the years, this is the most humbling," he said. "I am honored to be recognized but I can't do what we do without the hard work and dedicated graduate students that I have been fortunate enough to work with over the years. Just as I learned from my professors and mentors, I've been blessed with dedicated graduate students who help implement projects. This award really is a tribute to the graduate students as well."
This award recognizes individuals for their record of distinguished service to the pork industry through involvement in implementing, supervising, and/or participating in performance testing programs. Nominations for the award are open to anyone involved in the pork industry.
Stalder has been an animal science faculty member and extension swine specialist at Iowa State for the past 10 years. During this time, his service to the swine industry through research, education and technology transfer has become known nationally and internationally. He strives to develop tools that are immediately applicable to the swine industry through teaching, extension, and research.
"The goal is really to improve the productivity and well-being of the animals and help the farmer be more productive which leads to pork being more a more competitive protein source for the consumer at the grocery store," he said.
Stalder helped develop a series of posters on feet and leg soundness. These posters have been translated into eight different languages and found in barns from China to Japan to Denmark. He led the development of a spreadsheet tool to help producers determine the value of sow life in their operations. Along with his colleagues and graduate students, he's published 93 peer reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, 17 peer reviewed extension and conference proceedings papers, 65 conference proceedings papers, 115 research reports, and 83 popular press articles, and presented more than 150 invited talks to audiences in the U.S. and throughout the world.
His affiliation with the National Swine Improvement Federation dates back 20 years, to his time in graduate school. He has served as the organization's president, in other leadership capacities and on several committees, and has worked to increase the organization's reach as well.
"I thought it was important to have more involvement by breeding stock companies, and worked to increase participation by those people which included companies from throughout North America," Stalder said. "I also started a sponsorship program that helps support both the National Swine Improvement Federation's graduate student award and bringing in internationally renowned speakers for the federation's Conference and Annual Meeting."