"What am I going to do today to help somebody?"
Keep up with the beef industry newsbeat, and chances are you’ve seen Glenn Selk’s name pop up a time or two. The Nebraska native, Oklahoma import spent years working as an Extension beef specialist for Oklahoma State University, retiring from his full time position in 2010. His extensive knowledge of beef cattle and a side interest of communication work he first discovered while disc jockeying as a teenager have carried through most of his career, leading to developing those skills further while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Even after retirement, Selk’s love for communicating with the beef producers of the Sooner State, was far from being over and he still writes a weekly herd management column for the COW/CALF CORNER, a collaborative newsletter with Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist. Selk is also the personality for SUNUP TV’s Cow-Calf Corner program, touching on anything from weaning and breeding protocols to nutritional requirement for beef cattle.
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A center fielder for the New York Yankees, but it didn’t take long to know that wasn’t going to happen!
I grew up on a Horned Hereford operation in central Nebraska. It was the ‘50s and ‘60s, back when the breed were just about the only cattle around. I always admired the ranch operations in the Sand Hills, and planned on returning one day.
- How did you get started in the beef industry?
One of my biggest influences in getting a start in the industry was being involved in a strong 4-H program. I had the chance to be on judging teams and travel to different operations, which got me really interested in the industry as a whole. I ended up going to UNL to judge on the meats and livestock judging teams.
After UNL, I ended up getting my masters degree from Oklahoma State University (OSU). I really liked the area, and decided to take a job as an area Extension livestock agent in northeast Oklahoma, with the intentions of returning to get up my pHd. Well, seven years later I was still there. I said to myself, “Are you going to just settle down here and buy a house and a fishing boat, or are you going to go back to school?”
I returned to Stillwater, and finished up my pHd in 1986, took a position with OSU where I’ve been ever since.
- Where was the best steak you ever had? Is there a story behind that?
The most memorable steak I’ve ever had was on a trip to Omaha, Neb., I took with my daughter to watch some cousins’ high school graduation a couple of years ago. My daughter loves a good steak, so we stopped at The Drover in Omaha and had their whiskey soaked steaks. That was the most flavorful, tender steak we had ever had. To this day, my daughter still drops hints about returning!
- Recall an “oops” moment that actually turned into a valuable lesson. Tell us about it.
Oops: When my late father-in-law was in his mid-80s, he decided to buy some bred heifers. On Easter Sunday, we were driving up to his house, and I saw his pickup parked out in the middle of a pasture. So I went out there in my three-piece suit and sure enough, a two-year-old heifer was having calving difficulties. We got her to a shed, where I took of my jacket and vest, then tried my best to cover my slacks. I turned to my father-in-law and said, “Where are your calf pulling chains?” He looked at me and said, “I gave those away 10 years ago!” We looked all over and couldn’t find anything to pull the calf with, so ended up going inside the house and getting one of his wife’s nylon belts. I don’t think we ever told her, by the way. But we got the calf pulled, and we all covered with mud in muck for Easter lunch!
Lesson: If you look back through my recent newsletters, you’ll see some columns on the calving kit. This is a kit producers need to put together prior to calving season, so if they need anything, they have it and know where it is.
…Those slacks never were the same. In fact, before my daughter’s wedding, I was instructed to go buy a new suit!
- Favorite place you’ve ever traveled to? Tell us about it.
When my daughter was nine, my wife and I asked her where she wanted to go for vacation – fully expecting her to say Disney World. She also happened to be on a huge Abigail Adams kick (first Vice President and second President of the United States John Adam’s wife). She had done a report on her, and announced to us that she would like to visit where Abigail Adams had died. Against what I thought was my better judgment, we planned a trip to Boston – I was not looking forward to it. We ended up having a blast during that week! There is such a concentration of American history in a small area, and it means a lot when you get to see it up close and personal.
- You’ve made it when…
You’ve made it when you get to do what you want to do. It’s by pure luck and chance that I get to do what I want to do, which has been communicating with the most cordial people of God’s green earth.