A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences beef cattle specialist has received the Southern Section Extension Award given by the American Society of Animal Science.

Matt Hersom, an associate professor in animal sciences and an Extension beef cattle faculty member won the award Feb. 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. The award was given in collaboration with the award sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, Vetmedica Division.

To be eligible for the award, scientists must be southern region Extension specialists and make an outstanding and noteworthy contribution in animal science in beef cattle, swine, sheep, horses, goats, 4-H livestock or meats. The nomination was based on Hersom’s Extension accomplishments.

“I think what this award represents to me is acknowledgement from my peers of the quality of the Extension programs we’re doing here in the state of Florida,” Hersom said. “I think the great thing about Extension is that I won the award, but I don’t do my Extension programs by myself. I’ve had some great mentors, some great people and great specialists here in the department and county faculty throughout the state of Florida that have helped me along the way.”

Hersom has been a part of the American Society of Animal Science since he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Iowa State University in 1995. He also earned a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Iowa State, with a focus on beef cattle grazing systems, and a doctorate in animal nutrition from Oklahoma State University. There, he focused on the effect of grazing systems on feedlot performance.

From day-to-day, Hersom fields calls from county faculty and producers and researches the effects of feeding strategies on beef cattle production. His UF/IFAS appointment is 60 percent Extension and 40percent research, but how much time he spends in each area depends on the week and the day, Hersom said.

“My favorite part about being an Extension specialist is being able to get out and interact with our clientele,” Hersom said. “My wife tells me ‘I can always tell when you come back from an Extension program because you’re in a good mood.’ I get a lot of job satisfaction out of delivering information and interacting with county faculty and clientele. I get the pleasure of working with different people form UF/IFAS employees to the farmer who has 10 cows to the manager of a 10,000-cow operation.”

Hersom also leads the Florida Beef Cattle Short Course program, the longest-running beef cattle short course program in the country and works with the Beef Quality Assurance program, an educational program for producers, teaching best management practices for animal production to make products safe, wholesome and nutritious. He has been working as an Extension specialist with UF/IFAS since January 2004.