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A 1987 sabbatical from my veterinary practice in Michigan to organize a gene bank of traditioanl breeds of livestock for The Livestock Conservancy (TLC) turned into a decades long adventure. TLC is a pioneer organization in protecting genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth’s bio-diversity. I eventually became director of TLC. Campaiging historic breeds with USDA led to the expansion of the National Seed Bank to include animal genetics. As Director of TLC i worked nationally and internationally to organize and collaborate with breed associations and other breed support groups; produced publications on breed conservation and management; discovered and censused historic American breeds such as Navajo-Churro sheep, Fainting goats, and Bourbon Red turkeys, as well as endangered imported breeds such as Tamworth pigs, Poiteau asses and Dutch Belted cattle; and promoted these breeds in sustainable and niche production systems as well as the marketing of breed specific products. Currently I am working with the Oveja Project to reinvigorate the historically important New Mexico sheep industry. Highlights of its 3 year history include a Shearing Workshop, reestablishing the NM Make It With Wool campaign, planned internships in textiles and meat processing, a fleece show and a proposal to reintroduce breed shows at the State Fair.
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