By Maggie Berger
COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Larry L. Boleman was inducted into the Animal Science Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, during the Department of Animal Science awards banquet. Dr. Joe Paschal, professor and Extension livestock specialist, located in Corpus Christi presented the award.
Boleman’s passion for agriculture and the cattle industry started at an early age. “I started buying, feeding and selling dairy calves when I was six or seven,” he said. In high school, he participated in the FFA and had an agriculture teacher who made a lasting impact on him and helped his love of cattle to grow.
In 1964, Boleman hitchhiked his way to Texas A&M College from the family farm outside of Waco, Texas. He had received a scholarship from the Waco A&M Mother’s Club for his first semester, but knew he would not have enough funding for his second semester. Ever the go-getter, Boleman sought advice from one of his animal science professors, Dr. G.T. King. King and the department head, Dr. O.D. Butler, hired Boleman to work at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Center, thus beginning his career with the university.
Upon graduation, he did leave for a brief period of time to serve as an assistant county agricultural agent in Brazos and Taylor counties before returning in 1971 for his doctorate. After earning his Ph.D., Boleman was hired by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, now Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, as a beef cattle specialist. He held this position for 30 years until he was promoted to associate head in the Department of Animal Science. From there he advanced to assistant deputy vice chancellor for agriculture, associate executive vice president for operations and associate chancellor for outreach & strategic initiative, all with Texas A&M AgriLife, until his retirement on August 31, 2018.
One of Boleman’s most influential achievements was the revitalization of the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course (BCSC). In 1990, the fledgling program was on the chopping block as attendance was dwindling.
“When I was put in charge of the program, I knew that we needed stakeholder buy-in,” Boleman said. “I met with industry leaders, including representatives from the cattle and breed associations, nutrition and feed manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and major livestock shows. I asked them if they would support, promote and attend the program, and what kind of information and training they would like to recommend for inclusion in the program. Then I did the same with cattle producers.”
His approach paid off. That year, the program attracted more than 300 people, doubling attendance from previous years. It also became apparent that the event was outgrowing the Kleberg Center and would have to be moved to a larger facility on campus. Thus, BCSC found its home in the Rudder Complex on main campus. Year after year, the program delivers a robust agenda for the more than 2,200 attendees. The goal being to expand the educational and informational base of cattle producers.
While Boleman is credited with saving BCSC, he did not miss the opportunity to credit his fellow Extension specialists for their contributions to the event during his acceptance speech on Tuesday night. He knew he was only able to pull it off because of their buy-in and help.
Another hat Boleman enjoys wearing is that of a livestock judge. While a graduate student in the department, he assisted L.D. Wythe in coaching the livestock judging team. Particularly skilled in beef cattle selection, he continues to be one of the leading professional national and international judges in the U.S. He judges and evaluates all beef cattle breeds presently in the United States and has served as the official beef cattle judge for over 1,000 county, regional, state, and national livestock expositions and judging contests throughout the nation during his judging career, spanning over 45 years.
Of all these accomplishments, his greatest one is his family. On May 25, 1968, Boleman graduated with a degree in animal science in the morning and then married Patricia Tanksley, daughter of animal science professor, Dr. T.D. Tanksley, Jr., in the afternoon. Together they raised three boys all of whom graduated from Texas A&M University with degrees in Animal Science. The entire family includes his wife Pat, Scott and Shanna Boleman and their sons Seth, TAMU Class of 2020, and Sage, TAMU Class of 2022, of College Station, Chris and Randi Boleman of College Station, and Craig and Kass Boleman of Irving. With the inclusion of Dr. Tanksley, who was more affectionately referred to as “Tank,” there are 7 Ph.D.’s, 3 M.S. degrees, and 7 B.S. degrees, all from the Department of Animal Science.
“So you can tell we bleed maroon and love the Department of Animal Science,” said
Boleman. “Any success and achievements we collectively have made lead directly back to the department. It’s a special place for all of us.”
Throughout his career, Boleman has taught over one million Texas 4-H and FFA students, college students, agriculture producers, and landowners, judged over 1,000 beef cattle shows, and revived the TAMU Beef Cattle Short Course teaching 50,000 producers in the last 20 years. It is these such contributions that have earned him his well-deserved spot in the Department of Animal Science Hall of Fame.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Kaitlyn Harkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.