Keith Zoellner Receives BIF Pioneer Award

Lexington, KY – The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Dr. Keith Zoellner with the Pioneer Award at the 35th Annual Meeting and Research Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky on May 30, 2003. The award recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle.

Dr. Keith Zoellner was born in Groton, South Dakota, where he grew up on a purebred Angus and crop farm. He was married in 1958 to Arlys Johnson and they have a daughter, Dr. Lori Zoellner, who is on the faculty at the University of Washington.

Dr. Keith Zoellner received a B.S. in Animal Husbandry from South Dakota State University in 1953. After spending two years in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, he entered graduate school at South Dakota State University where he earned a M.S. in Animal Breeding in 1957. Dr. Zoellner then joined the Animal Husbandry Extension Staff at the University of Nebraska. He left in 1959 to pursue a Ph.D. in Animal Breeding from the University of Missouri, where he graduated in 1962. Dr. Zoellner then joined the Animal Husbandry Extension Department at Kansas State University.

During his 34 years of service to the Animal Sciences and Industry Department at Kansas State University, Dr. Zoellner was an innovator and educator who brought many significant contributions and changes to the beef cattle industry. New statewide educational programs for beef cattle breeding and management as related to reproduction, performance testing, growth and profitability, with emphasis on both purebred and commercial cowherds were organized and held under Dr. Zoellner’s outstanding leadership.

Dr. Zoellner was instrumental in establishing and leading the first Kansas Bull Test. It proved so successful that a second Bull Test was established to serve another geographical area of the state. These bull tests served as models to other states in setting up their programs. Pioneering the way, several Steer Futurities, Purebred Seminars, and for the first time a 4-H State Beef Conference were held. New influential programs were set-up for on-farm performance testing, sire selection and evaluation, cowherd conditions, crossbreeding programs, parasite control, and up-to-date cattle management technologies.

Dr. Zoellner is a consultant to Perkins Blue Sky Farms, a purebred operation, staring in 1974. He also worked with the Calvey Ranches in Nicaragua in 1984 with their purebred operation. He did consulting for the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the American Hereford Association Genetic Review Committee. He served on the Farmers Hybrid Cattle Breeding Muskogee, Oklahoma, review committee. He served on the screening committee for the Northeast Kansas Hereford Association for many years.

Dr. Zoellner was the Kansas representative to the Beef Improvement Federation from its beginning until his retirement. He served as Chairman of the BIF Bull Test Committee and was the author of the BIF Feeder Calf Performance Program. He served on many committees including the Show and Exhibits Committee, Carcass Data Committee, Growth and Efficiency Committee, Annual Meeting Committee, Awards Committee, Central Test Committee, plus several others. Dr. Zoellner has authored many publications and papers.

Upon Dr. Zoellner’s retirement in 1996, a plaque was given to him by the Kansas Bull Test which read as follows: "In special recognition of Keith Zoellner who devoted outstanding service, dedication, and foresight to the Kansas Bull Test Program for improvement of the beef industry." Dr. Zoellner is now Professor Emeritus at Kansas State University.