A native of Russiaville, Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry at Ball State University, and a master’s degree in animal nutrition at Purdue. He joined the Purdue farm management staff in 1954 as beef research leader at the Southern Indiana Forage Farm in 1965, where he established his credentials in research and teaching about the beef industry. He then moved to Lynwood farm at Carmel, and two years later was named superintendent of that 623-acre livestock research farm in Hamilton County. Peterson retired when the farm was sold for development in 1988.
Peterson was cited for his “personal involvement in research activities, as well as in educational and public relations activities for the animal industry.”
Peterson was instrumental in shifting the emphasis from purebred to commercial production research, while maintaining food relationships with the original constituents. Cooperation with the Department of Animal Sciences has emphasized management for performance within sound economic parameters. In 1974 an agreement with the Indiana Pork Producers Association established a twice yearly swine performance evaluation program called a “derby.” The program now involves as many as 200 pigs form various producers.
Peterson’s efforts also led to the establishment of the Indiana Bull Testing Station at Lynwood-Purdue Agricultural Center. It is not located at West Lafayette.
Peterson is a member and former officer of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, the Indiana Simmental Association, and has served on the American Berkshire Association’s board of directors. He was elected a member of the Indiana Livestock Breeders’ Hall of Fame, and received the Oren A. Wright Award for outstanding contributions to the Indiana sheep industry, and the 1988 Outstanding Cattleman Award from the Indiana Beef Cattle Association.