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Colorado State University faculty named an emeritus professor of animal sciences as 2001 Livestock Leader, only the second such honor given to a university professor in its 30-year history. The award was given at the end of Colorado State Day on Jan. 13 at the National Western Stock Show.
John Matsushima, who retired from active teaching at Colorado State in 1992, was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the livestock industry in Colorado.
Winners of the Livestock Leader award are nominated and voted upon by faculty from Colorado State’s Department of Animal Sciences. Matsushima, a Fort Collins resident, was honored at a College of Agricultural Sciences alumni social yesterday evening that capped a day’s worth of university-related events at the National Western.
"A lot of John Matsushima’s early work has been instrumental in developing cattle feeding practices in feedlots in Colorado and across the West and Midwest," said Darryl Tatum, professor and head of the Department of Animal Sciences. "John’s nearly five-decade career has generated technical knowledge and procedures that have had a big impact on shaping what we do in the cattle industry here in Colorado and nationally."
In the 1950s, Matsushima and his students developed, among other techniques, a grain-treatment process called "flaking" that made grain starches more readily digestible by cattle.
The process improved beef quality for consumers and lowered grain costs for feedlot owners.
"The livestock industry in Colorado is stronger today because of the pioneering efforts of Dr. Matsushima," said Colorado Livestock Association Chief Executive Officer Brad Anderson. "His ongoing research into improving cattle feeding has resulted in Colorado being recognized nationally and internationally as a leading state for livestock feeding."
Matsushima won the National Educator’s Award from the National Association of Meat Purveyors (1976); the Distinguished Service Award from Farmland Industries of Kansas City, Mo. (1982); the State 4-H Alumni Award for Colorado (1982); the Top Choice Award of the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association (1983); the National 4-H Alumni Award in Chicago (1984); and several awards for research excellence and distinguished service from professional animal science organizations.
In addition, Matsushima won the 1985 National Western Stock Show Superintendent Emeritus Award and co-founded the National Western’s Fed Beef Contest and served as its superintendent for 20 years.
Formal retirement hasn’t slowed Matsushima’s activities, especially in the international arena. He currently serves as a consultant in China to establish a fledgling beef industry there. For more than three decades he has worked in Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia, assisting government and non-governmental projects aimed at launching or improving various nation’s beef industries.
The grandson of a Japanese immigrant, Matsushima was born in Denver in 1920 and raised in Lafayette, where his father Kenneth was a vegetable grower, and Platteville. He earned a bachelor’s in animal science and a master’s in animal nutrition at Colorado State and a doctorate in animal science and biochemistry from the University of Minnesota.
He taught at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus, and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before joining Colorado State in 1961. During his career at the three universities, he taught more than 10,000 students and served as major adviser to 35 master’s degree students and 20 doctoral students. Among the 55 candidates who obtained advanced degrees were students from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, England, Ethiopia, France, Guatemala, India, Italy Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Turkey and the Sudan.
Despite recognition for his research, Matsushima said, "Education has been my primary interest, and I am proud of all the students that I’ve had the opportunity to teach. Many of the undergraduates that I’ve had in class have become leaders in their profession. Many of the foreign graduate students are doing great things for their respective countries."
Matsushima has written more than 200 professional and popular publications and four books, including "A Journey Back: The History of Cattle Feeding in Colorado and the United States," which he co-authored with W.D. Farr.
The Livestock Leader awards were given by Colorado State from 1960-1973 and again in 1976. The awards were reinstituted in 1986 by David Ames, professor of animal sciences and former department head, and continue through the present.