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Women of ASA

Women of ASA - Dr. Lauren Hyde

By Emme Demmendaal    |

Paving the way for women in agriculture, Dr. Lauren Hyde was instrumental in rolling out the most useful cattle selection tool to the industry — the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation.

Editor’s Note: The Women of ASA is a series of articles highlighting the significant contributions of women in the Simmental community.

http://www.simangus.us/mags/womenofasa_lhyde1.jpgAs the former lead geneticist for the American Simmental Association (ASA) and International Genetic Solutions (IGS), Lauren Hyde, along with a team of scientists, helped the ASA and 11 other breed associations transition to weekly genetic evaluation runs. Since that time, IGS has continued to grow with 16 breed associations and three industry allies, a testament to the impact Hyde and the IGS team have made. The weekly run of the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation makes the difference for cattle breeders trying to identify top genetics, especially at this time of the year when breeding selections are at their highest.

“Going from two evaluations a year to weekly ones gives breeders nearly real-time information on their animals.” Hyde emphasizes “Data can be incorporated as soon as possible into an animal’s genetic profile, which is much more timely than once every six months.” 

Hyde explains that a geneticist can wear many hats at a breed association. She worked at the North American Limousin Foundation before making the transition to the ASA in 2010. “When I was at Limousin, in addition to directing the entire genetic evaluation program, I maintained the database, wrote scripts for data entry and accounts receivable, wrote articles, and even helped at the shows in Denver. When I joined ASA, I could focus on genetic evaluation, and with IGS, I was able to help some smaller associations that couldn’t staff a full-time geneticist or team of scientists.”

Prior to converting to weekly runs, Hyde worked closely with ASA’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Wade Shafer, and Chief Operations Officer, Steve McGuire, to ensure the accuracy of the evaluations. Shafer, McGuire, and Hyde would spend several hours reviewing statistical measures and reports before publishing the EPDs.

At ASA Hyde communicated with members on a daily basis, usually explaining why EPDs changed on a particular animal. Hyde says, “Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of my job at ASA was helping people who really enjoyed the science behind EPDs and wanted to learn more about using them effectively.”

Since Hyde retired in December of 2019, her successor, Dr. Randie Culbertson, now handles the evaluation checks and answers members' questions.

Overall, Hyde feels that keeping the end game in mind — improving cattle genetics and commercial producers’ bottom line — has made ASA and IGS partners successful. “The ASA has become a true leader in the industry through the formation of IGS and its partnerships with several breed associations and industry allies. All the partners are leaders as well because they put their own differences aside to work together and create a great entity that benefits the global cattle industry.”

While Hyde always loved livestock and working with animals, she didn’t start her career as a geneticist in the cattle industry. After earning an economics degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she worked as an actuary at a life insurance company. A few years later, she discovered that a career in insurance held very little interest to her, and she headed back to school to become a veterinarian.

While taking prerequisites for veterinary school at Colorado State University, Hyde met her late husband, Don, at an animal shelter in Denver. Don had a mixed-animal veterinarian practice, which gave Hyde exposure to how tough life as a veterinarian can be. Her career really clicked when she took an animal breeding class from Dr. Rick Bourdon, which pushed her into the world of animal genetics. She says, “When I found out that I could combine my love for statistics
and animals, I knew I found what I wanted to do. That’s what did it for me.” 

Although becoming a beef cattle geneticist wasn’t a straightforward career path for Hyde, she believes that it was her destiny. “As a junior in high school, I had to take a career placement exam. I remember that my two primary career areas of interest were farmer/rancher and football coach. I wound up actually kind of doing both. Through my work as a beef cattle geneticist, I became closely involved in farming and ranching, and instead of coaching football, I now coach swimming.”

Hyde has coached at the high school and masters-level and teaches swimming lessons at a local recreation center. This year she started to officiate swimming and diving. And as a true testament to being a lifelong learner, she took up figure skating in her 50s and recently started playing in a 50-plus hockey league.

When asked about her advice for people looking to stay close to their roots in the agriculture industry, Hyde is quick to point out that while she didn’t directly grow up on a cattle operation, she came back to her core passions. She concludes, “I did a career-360 and came back to what I really should’ve been doing all along — what really interested me deep down, rather than on a superficial level. When I went back to my roots, that’s when I met my husband and started my career. I was being true to myself. And I think if you’re true to yourself, then you can be true to other people and make a difference in the world.”

 

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