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Longtime Range Cattle REC Director Now Chair of UF/IFAS Animal Sciences

When John Arthington was 11, his grandfather gave him two heifers for a 4-H project in Indiana, where he was born and raised. Arthington took those heifers and built a small herd, and that success drew him to major in animal sciences at Purdue University.

Arthington excelled as an undergraduate, and his professors encouraged him to attend graduate school.

Now, after 20-plus years as a premier cattle scientist and administrator, Arthington has been appointed chair of animal sciences at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Arthington, who started April 1, comes to his new position in Gainesville after 14 years as director of the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, Florida.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said Arthington’s combined experience as a researcher and center director positioned him well to lead the animal sciences department.

“Dr. Arthington is not only a prolific researcher, but he has a knack for reaching key stakeholders with the data that he and other faculty gather at the Range Cattle REC,” Payne said. “I’m confident John will steer the department to pre-eminent goals in teaching, research and Extension.”

Arthington prides himself on client relationships.

“Because I really enjoy stakeholder engagement, being at Ona was perfect,” he said. “I was seldom at a lack of resources or people to help me be successful.”

Among his top priorities in his first year, Arthington wants to improve client relationships through several initiatives. Additionally, he plans to improve livestock facilities.

In his position in Gainesville, Arthington sees himself focusing even more on how UF/IFAS faculty teach animal sciences.

“The department has an amazingly talented set of faculty,” he said. “Their success will launch UF/IFAS animal sciences into the next level of preeminence. For this to occur, they will need strong leadership focused on undergraduate curriculum, improved facilities, expanded livestock and facility resources, recruitment of the best graduate students and stakeholder input and support.”

“Stakeholders, particularly alumni, want to see a commitment to improving and growing the teaching program,” Arthington said. “I did not have that responsibility at Ona. I’m particularly excited about engaging in the teaching part of our mission.”

Beef and dairy cattle are big business in Florida. A recent UF/IFAS report showed the state’s combined beef cattle, dairy cattle and allied industries generated revenues totaling $16.8 billion and supported 118,191 full-time and part-time jobs in calendar year 2017.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Purdue, Arthington earned master’s and doctoral degrees in animal sciences from Kansas State University. After getting his Ph.D., Arthington worked for three years as a technical research scientist for the American Protein Corporation in Ames, Iowa. Then he joined the UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC as an assistant professor in 1998.

His research program focuses on mineral nutrition for grazing beef cattle, and he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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