Department of Animal Science Distinguished Awards

On Friday, April 28, in College Station, Texas, the Department of Animal Science recognized the 2023 distinguished award recipients in the categories of Hall of Fame, Outstanding Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni.

Read more here about the departmental awards also presented during the banquet. A special presentation was made for Dr. Jim Sanders who is retiring from the department this year. Read about his legacy and impact here.

Texas A&M University is built on six core values: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. The Department of Animal Science is committed to developing these core values in our current students who are training to become leaders in his/her chosen field. In addition, the Department commends and honors its former students and friends who have led successful careers in accordance with these same values.

The following awards recognize individuals for their outstanding leadership and significant contributions to society in such a way that brings honor and recognition individually, and thereby, to the Department. Additionally, these awards are designed to acknowledge the individual’s impact on Texas, the United States and the world.

Animal Science Hall of Fame Award

The Animal Science Hall of Fame Award celebrates outstanding individuals who, through their exceptional work and achievements, have advanced the field of animal science and made a profound difference to the productivity and sustainability of animal agriculture. We are deeply grateful this year to honor Dr. A.M. “Tony” Sorensen, Jr. with a posthumous induction into the Department of Animal Science Hall of Fame. To accept the award on behalf of Dr. Sorensen’s family was Mr. Carl Olsen. 

Dr. A. M. “Tony” Sorensen, Jr.  grew up near Granger, Texas and began his study of animal husbandry at Texas A&M College in 1942. His study was interrupted by service to his country as an infantryman where he saw combat in Europe, and was honorably discharged from the Army and returned to A&M in 1946. Upon completing his undergraduate training, he pursued graduate training in Physiology of Reproduction at Cornell University. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. William Hansel. His graduate research documented the impact of nutrition on reproductive function in cattle and was fundamental to today’s studies in this important area. After two years as an Assistant Professor of Dairy Science at Mississippi State he joined the faculty of Animal Husbandry at Texas A&M in 1955. He collaborated with Dr. R. O. Berry until Dr. Berry’s retirement in 1960. Together, Dr. Berry, Dr. Sorensen, and Mr. L.A. Maddox developed foundational Extension programs in beef cattle reproduction a that expanded and became an important component of the Extension program in reproduction guided by Dr. John Beverly.

After Dr. Berry’s retirement, Dr. Sorensen began teaching ANSC 433 “Reproduction in Farm Animals” where he saw the number of students taking his course grow from less than 100 per year to over 300 annually. During his tenure, Dr. Sorensen authored an excellent textbook and lab manual that were adopted by many institutions. His enthusiasm and innovative methods of teaching were well received by students and contributed to his recognition with numerous university and national teaching awards including the TAMU Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching and Honor professor.  He also received the, Distinguished Teacher Award from the American Society of Animal Science, and the Piper Professor Award.

Sorensen provided direction and inspiration to staff, faculty, students, and producers in his 24-year career with the Department. Dr. Sorensen’s contribution to the study of reproduction and to the education of Texas A&M’s students was cut short by his untimely death in February 1980. However, today many of the initiatives that he launched in the area of reproductive physiology continue.

Outstanding Alumni Award

The Animal Science Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes a graduate of the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science who has built a distinguished career and made an impact that brings honor to the Department. This year’s Outstanding Alumni Award is presented to Craig Huffhines.

Craig Huffhines is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, and he points to the faculty and experiential learning opportunities at Texas A&M as being instrumental in directing his career path. As a member of the Department of Animal Science, He was a member of the 1989 Livestock Judging Team, Vice President of the Saddle & Sirloin Club, and manager of the Saddle & Sirloin Holiday Ham program.

Craig received his master’s degree in meat science under Dr. Gary Smith at Colorado State University. His research projects led to a position with the American Hereford Association (AHA) as director of Feedlot and Carcass programs where he assembled a team of industry experts and beef supply chain partners launching the American Hereford Association’s Certified Hereford Beef Program. This year will mark Certified Hereford Beef’s 28th year of existence, adding value to millions of head of cattle. At the age of twenty-nine, Craig became the Executive Vice President of the AHA where he would spend the next eighteen years building a team of beef industry professionals and guiding strategic efforts to promote and improve the Hereford breed.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) recruited Craig to take the reins as their Chief Executive Officer in 2015. AQHA is the largest equestrian membership organization in the world with over 250,000 members globally. For the next six years, Craig would lead a 220-person staff and focus on new technology, membership services and equine welfare.

In 2021, Craig joined Colorado State University as the Director of Equine Sciences and the Wagonhound Land & Livestock Chairholder. His decision to enter academia was principally inspired by the professors and mentors that influenced and shaped his life as a young student. Supporting, encouraging, and guiding young people is Craig’s passion. He enjoys sharing his experiences with college students and connecting them to member of the industry.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

The Animal Science Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes a graduate of the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science who is 12 years or less post-graduation and who has, early in their career, attained prominence and has brought honor to the Department. We are pleased to present this year’s outstanding young alumni award to Dr. Whitney Crossland.

Whitney Crossland was raised in Denton County, Texas. In 2006, she transferred from Tarleton State University to Texas A&M University where she joined the 2007 meats judging team and was named an All American. In 2010, She completed a master’s degree in animal science under the direction of Dr. Luis Tedeschi. Dr. Tedeschi welcomed her back for a doctoral program which she completed in 2018. During her doctoral program, she was awarded the Willie May Harris Fellowship for Outstanding Teaching Assistants, the NCBA W. D. Farr Scholarship, and Texas Cattle Feeders Association Scholarships. Upon graduation she secured a tenure-track position at Texas Tech University as assistant professor of animal nutrition where she teaches general animal science, principles of nutrition, feeds and feeding, and ruminant nutrition. She advises the block and bridle club, the academic quadrathlon team, and mentors several undergraduate research scholars. Her dedication to teaching has been recognized through receipt of the TTU Alumni Association New Faculty Award and the Hemphill Wells New Faculty Teaching Award.

Crossland’s research program focuses on beef cattle health and nutrition. Her work has primarily featured antibiotic alternatives for the control of liver abscesses in the feedlot. Most notably, her work has demonstrated for the first time ever, that the bacterial DNA isolated from these infections is also the primary bacterial DNA identified in healthy liver contemporaries. Other areas of her research program involve modulation of the immune response through nutritional strategies that bolster antioxidant capacity; as well as strategic nutritional management of replacement heifers utilizing native forages and regional feed commodities. She has authored over 35 peer-reviewed articles and abstracts and secured more than $350,000 in research funding.  

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