Working in beef cattle education and with cattle producers long has been a passion of Joe Paschal, Ph.D., who admits he never intended to work long enough to retire from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service as a livestock specialist.
Paschal, whose career spans 40 years, is well known among Gulf Coast and statewide beef cattle producers as the go-to source for science-based information. His role as livestock specialist based in Corpus Christi ends Oct. 31 with his retirement, and fittingly the 2022 Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course is dedicated in honor of his service to Texas, national and international cattle producers.
Paschal said the idea of working as a livestock specialist caught his eye at a beef cattle judging event while observing Randall Grooms, Ph.D., who spent 26 years working as a beef cattle specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Research Center at Overton. Grooms was internationally recognized for his expertise and widely followed by purebred and commercial cattle producers through his educational programming.
“At the time, I was just overly impressed with how professional he was, how he was approached by beef cattle producers, greeted and respected by those people … it was then that I knew I wanted to get into this profession,” Paschal said.
Fort Stockton beginnings
Paschal initially went to work for the Charolais Breeders Association and was asked by Jim Sanders, Ph.D., Texas A&M Department of Animal Science faculty member, to return to College Station to complete his master’s and doctoral degrees.
He finished school, and a livestock specialist position opened in Fort Stockton. A meeting with Frank Litterst Jr., longtime adult education specialist at Texas A&M and instructor in beef production for the department, would eventually give Paschal his initial agency position.
“Mr. Litterst had to show me where Fort Stockton was on the map,” he said. “I applied for the job and got it. I enjoyed the job immensely, but never thought I would be in the position with Extension long enough to retire. The people there made me feel so welcome and the faculty were all really welcoming.”
About a year and a half later, Paschal said the current position he holds at Corpus Christi came open. Initially, the position was stationed in Weslaco, but was moved to Corpus Christi to better serve the region’s livestock producers and serve the agency’s District 12 and District 14.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do some really neat things, work with faculty at Texas A&M Kingsville, several breed associations,” Paschal said. “I’ve considered other opportunities, but this is a really good job working with the county agents, the animal science faculty, other departments and colleagues in research, extension and teaching. And of course, the ranchers across Texas, they are absolutely the world’s greatest. Anytime I thought about throwing in the towel, I thought about the county agents and the ranchers. They are the industry giants.”
Paschal’s career highlights and accomplishments are numerous involving education, work with breed association research and governmental group assistance. In the Beef Cattle Short Course proceedings, Paschal was recognized for providing leadership with programming on key leadership initiatives:
- Cattle Fever Tick Eradication.
- Beef Quality Assurance.
- South Texas Ranch to Rail.
- Beef Partnership in Extension Program.
- Rio Grande Valley Beef Improvement Association Bull Gain and Heifer Development Association.
- Beef Carcass Merit Evaluation.
- National Beef Breeds Feed Out.
- Spanish Goat Program.
- Prickly Pear Education Initiative.
- South Texas Stocker Cattle.
- Comprehensive Ranch Management programs.
These initiatives and programs have been credited with millions of dollars returned to producers and consumers.
‘Consummate Extension specialist’
“Joe is the consummate Extension specialist,” said Ron Gill, Ph.D., longtime colleague and AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Bryan-College Station.
“Joe has always seen his role as a conduit to livestock producers for science-based and real world-tested recommendations for production practices that make economic and/or environmental sense.
“His career has been dedicated to helping county agents be successful in their programming efforts. He accomplished this in two main ways: Support in providing quality educational programs to their clientele; but maybe more importantly, through his efforts to train agents to become better subject-matter experts and giving them the confidence to be true educators within their counties and regions.”
Larry Boleman, Ph.D., who served as longtime AgriLife Extension state beef cattle specialist and retired as associate vice chancellor for strategic outreach and initiatives with Texas A&M AgriLife, said, “Joe will be best known as truly loving to help people in agriculture achieve success. All Texans, mentors, educators, researchers and producers are so fortunate to have had him serve the beef cattle industry and the land-grant mission of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service throughout his more than 40-year career.”
Paschal said he has enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of the job.
“This job is the most autonomous job,” he said. “With us being in AgriLife Extension, nobody stands over you and tells you what needs to be done. It’s up to you to determine what needs to be done. AgriLife Extension has provided a good career, and I highly recommend it to anyone.”