Posted on August 20, 2019 at 3:22 PM by Global Reach
Darrell Busby was raised in St. Francis, Kansas, a small town in the northwest corner of the state. He and his three younger brothers raised cattle, sheep and pigs. He was a member of the Lawn Ridge 4-H club for eight years and received the State 4-H recognition award in swine in 1968. His early experiences through his 4-H and FFA activities were key to his ongoing interest in a career in agriculture, with particular guidance from his 4-H leaders and county extension agents. Darrell even met Cathy, the girl who became his wife, at the county fair where they were both showing 4-H hogs—that’s a real love story!
Darrell further pursued his education at Kansas State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree there. Upon graduation, he worked for Rush County (KS) Extension, and then transferred to Sherman County, KS. Three years later like many other farm boys, he decided to return to the farm and raise livestock. But the call to pursue further education remained. Dr. Larry Corah convinced Darrell to enroll in and complete a Master’s degree program in animal science back at K-State. Darrell embarked on a new opportunity in 1980 when he accepted the position of Extension Livestock Specialist in Southwest Iowa, where he served until his retirement in June 2017.
Throughout his life, Darrell has always held a special place in his heart for kids. His actions speak volumes for his commitment to youth; most notably youth with beef projects. He has been a judge at 4-H cattle shows, and also was assistant sheep superintendent at the AK-SAR-BEN stock show for 22 years, and through the years assisted the 4-H program at the Iowa State Fair.
One special topic that Darrell has been committed to involves the financial risk inherent to 4-H and FFA beef projects. For over a decade, animals from these beef projects sometimes resulted in “dark cutters.” These are beef animals that have been stressed before harvest resulting in lower market value meat. The financial burden to the youth was considerable, and discouraged some from growing calves. Darrell established a self-insurance program where all youth contribute a small fee to an insurance fund to support youth who suffer serious financial setbacks. As of 2012, this insurance program helped 35 youth across Iowa. Each year, Darrell worked with a committee of extension staff and youth leaders to review the program, evaluate payments made, review any carryover funds and then set premium costs for the next year. Quite a success, indeed!
As another part of his commitment to youth, he has served as the go-to guy for 4-H and FFA beef carcass data collection, leading the efforts for 26 years in Southwest Iowa. Carcass data is used to learn about productivity and profitability in the beef project. As an example for impacts, in 2012 data describing 1351 beef calf carcasses were collected and summarized from 38 counties and 2 contests at the Iowa State Fair.
During Darrell’s tenure as an Extension beef specialist, he was bombarded with questions about all aspects of raising, marketing and anything else about cattle from people in all parts of the industry. Sometimes, serious issues lead Darrell to the development of creative educational programming—programs that were the envy of other regions of the state.
Closer to home, Darrell served as a local 4-H club leader. He was a member of the Oakland Community School District Board of Education, president of the Oakland Optimist Club and has been very active in the Methodist Church. He even found time to run the scoreboard on Friday nights for Oakland High School football games.
A few of the awards Darrell has received though his career include being named an Honorary Master Pork Producer, FFA Distinguished Service award, East Pottawattamie Friend of 4-H, Excellence in Agricultural Extension Programs, the R.K. Bliss Award, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Hall of Fame, and now his 2019 selection to the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.
Thank you, Darrell Busby, for your commitment to “Making the Best Better” throughout your career.