SDSU Extension specialist and meat science assistant professor receives national recognition

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Keith Underwood, SDSU Extension Meat Specialist & Assistant Professor of Meat Science was recognized by Vance Publishing Corporation’s Agribusiness Group with this year’s 40 Under 40 Award program, which recognizes people making a significant contribution to America’s food system.

“Keith is passionate about his role in enhancing South Dakota’s livestock industry by educating the next generation of professionals and conducting research to enhance meat quality and ultimately increase profits for South Dakota’s livestock producers,” said Joe Cassady, Animal Science Dept. Head.

Underwood, 34, is also known to many South Dakotans for the hands-on, outdoor BBQ Bootcamp program he developed to teach consumers about meat selection, food safety and grilling techniques.

“It’s a great way to interact with consumers and provides a relaxed atmosphere to answer many questions and expose consumers to a broad diversity of cuts,” said Underwood of the 25-plus programs which he has hosted together with his colleagues since 2010.

Along with the BBQ Bootcamps, Underwood has been actively involved with the Beef 20/20 shortcourse designed to educate beef producers about management, nutrition, food safety and carcass value.

“I believe in the value of meat as a food source that is a very important part of our diet. I enjoy working with the folks who produce and process this product and work to help them improve meat quality,” Underwood said.

Underwood’s passion for meat science was strongly influenced by Dr. Mark Miller, a Texas Tech University Meat Science Professor. “It was the way he talked about the meat industry and its opportunities,” Underwood recalled. “Through his classes about the biology of meat science really captured my interest.”

This interest led him to pursue a master’s and eventually a doctorate in Animal & Veterinary Sciences from the University of Wyoming in 2008. He joined SDSU Extension and the faculty of South Dakota State University in 2009.

Underwood and his wife, Julie, have three young children; Aubrey, 5, Lucas, 4 and Dustin, 2.