By Olivia Norton ’16
Growing up in Corpus Christi surrounded by Santa Gertrudis cattle and Quarter Horses, livestock was never far from reach for Joe Paschal. It was no surprise that after completing high school, he set his sights on a future in the livestock industry.
Two years at Del Mar Junior College provided Paschal with his basic courses in math and science, allowing him to shift his focus to Texas A&M University for the remainder of his undergraduate career. In the fall of 1975, he transferred into A&M as an animal science production major and joined the Corp of Cadets.
“I wasn’t a stellar student,” Paschal recalled. “I was involved in the Saddle & Sirloin Club but because I transferred in as a junior and lived off campus, I missed my opportunity to participate on the judging teams, which I regret.”
After graduation, with the careful guidance and encouragement of advisors and professors such as Dr. Harold Franke and Dr. Gene King, Paschal had a new goal in mind. He began graduate work under the supervision of Dr. John K. Riggs and Frank Litterst in the beef cattle production section.
“I began helping with animal science practicum classes and working at the Beef Center,” Paschal said. “I can remember the old Beef Center was located where Reed Arena now stands.”
In the summer of 1979, Paschal left his graduate work and Texas A&M to pursue a career with the International Charolais Association in Houston. This provided him the opportunity to travel around the United States and Central and South America. Attending shows, conferences and ranches pertaining to one of his passions could hardly be considered work.
In November of 1981, Texas A&M called once again as Dr. Jim Sanders encouraged Paschal to return to finish his master’s degree with hopes of adding a doctorate to his list of credentials. After careful consideration, Paschal couldn’t turn down the opportunity to once again join his Aggie family and in January of 1982 he returned, teaching and assisting Sanders with his animal breeding laboratory along with Franke’s livestock marketing laboratory.
The careful encouragement and support of animal science faculty paved the way for Paschal, who completed a doctorate in animal breeding in 1986 and accepted a position as a livestock specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service in Fort Stockton.
“At the time I had to look it up on a map to see where I would be working. It was a great opportunity,” Paschal recalled. “I worked with a close band of Extension specialists in range management, agricultural economics and wildlife management and nearly everything we did was done as a team focusing not just on production but the economics of production.”
After working as a livestock specialist for two years, a move was on the horizon once again for Paschal as he transferred to Corpus Christi to become the new Extension livestock specialist stationed at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center and continues to hold this position today. Paschal is responsible for the supervision of 37 counties in the Southern and Gulf Coast areas and notes a lot of driving, many late nights and often quite a few weekends.
Alongside the other specialists in the different subject matter fields, Paschal has developed a number of educational programs. “As an Extension specialist, I support county based educational programs and activities,” Paschal said. “County Extension Agents visit with committees of beef cattle producers and come up with plans or ideas for field days or programs, and I work with them to make sure they are conducted and now, most importantly, evaluated and reported.”
Today, Paschal’s influence on livestock extension programs has ranged anywhere from long range educational programs such as comprehensive ranch management, meat goat and stocker cattle management to the Texas A&M Ranch to Rail-South programs. “Because my position is extremely broad, I may talk about the vaccination of certain cattle diseases and the discovery and validation of genetic markers for carcass merit in the same day.”
“Recently I have been evaluating the economic impact of various beef cattle management practices such as restocking, basic calf management, reproductive management, etc., and publishing the results in the FARM Assistance Focus Publications,” Paschal said.
Paschal has received numerous awards throughout his influential career, but he will be the first to tell you the two he holds with the highest regard is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist Superior Service Award and most recently, the State Specialist of the Year Award given by the Texas County Agents Agricultural Agents Association this year.
“My favorite part of my job has always been working with the County Extension Agents in their counties and with their clientele,” Paschal explained. “Some CEAs have a great deal of livestock background, some have very little, but they all have one thing in common, they are interested in helping their folks get answers and solve their problems.”
When he isn’t counseling with Extension agents in his region, you will find him traveling throughout the United States and abroad judging cattle shows and giving educational talks along the way since his expertise is sought after, commonly in Central and South America.
The work that draws Paschal to other countries is his work with “eared breeds” of cattle, characterized by Bos Indicus influence. “I think that these breeds were largely ignored by mainstream animal science until recently and that change is mainly because those breeders and animal science faculty at southern U.S. universities realized the importance of them in U.S. beef production,” Paschal said. “Without the genetics in these breeds, production in the hot and humid areas of this state and others make for pretty poor beef production environments.”
Outside of the livestock industry, Paschal and his wife, Vickey, have been married for 40 years and have two children. Their daughter, Helen Philips, DVM, is a Texas A&M animal science and vet school graduate who now owns Philips Veterinary Hospital in Brenham. She and her husband Chad have one child, Matthew. Their son, Robert, is a graduate of Texas A&M – Kingsville and is a pharmacy technician for Texas A&M.
“During my time off we ranch and graze a few steers and do some custom artificial insemination work for other ranchers in the area. We offer nature tours and like to do a little nature tourism ourselves,” Paschal said. “I have been working for the Texas A&M University System since 1977 and at the age of 59 I am still enjoying myself and my work.”
With a career that begins and currently resides in the Texas A&M System, it is easy to see where Paschal’s loyalty will remain. With 36 years of influence in the livestock industry, Paschal’s presence is one that will not fade with time.
Olivia Norton ’16 is a sophomore animal science major from Texarkana, Texas.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.