West Lafayette, IN
Kern Hendrix retired from Purdue University in 2003 as Extension Beef Specialist, a position he held for almost 30 years. In retirement Hendrix continues to give leadership to Indiana’s beef cattle programs as the managing secretary/treasurer of the Indiana Beef Evaluation Program (IBEP) and director of the IBEP Bull Test Station. A native of Martin County, Indiana, Hendrix graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Animal Sciences in 1967. He earned his M.S. in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition from the University of Nebraska in 1974.
Hendrix’s career focused on extension and applied research in beef cow-calf and growing and finishing nutrition and management. Hendrix was responsible for many innovations to the beef extension programs in Indiana. In 1983 he developed and released the FACTS Ration Analyzer for Beef (FX-110), a beef nutrition management software program that was, at the time, one of the more complex agriculture field application software programs designed to run on a microcomputer. The program could determine nutrient requirements based on a number of physical and environmental characteristics, while determining costs of various rations and predict rate of gain and cost of gain. The software could also make ration adjustments based on available feedstuffs to optimize the economic level of animal performance. Also in the early and mid 1980’s he helped develop and conduct beef telecourses that were among some of the earlier distance education programs offered at Purdue, and were attended by hundreds of beef cattle producers and extension educators from around the state. In addition, he was active in the Indiana Beef Forage Integrated Resource Management Program and, from the inception of IBEP in the late 1980’s, he gave leadership to the program that involved the testing and evaluating of about 300 bulls per year. Hendrix also served as co-director of the Indiana Beef Evaluation and Economics Feeding Program (IBEEF), a steer feedout program, and he was co-chair of Purdue’s Applied Research/Demonstration Task Force to enhance the collaboration among Purdue Extension field staff and campus based specialists.
Throughout his career, Hendrix was known as an “elite extension specialist,” meaning, in the words of one extension educator, he “was always available, and always willing to participate in a meeting, answer a phone call or travel to the farm to help with a problem.” His professional expertise in cattle nutrition and management were invaluable to Hoosier cattle producers, but it’s his manner and ability to communicate with anyone at any level that they remember most. It was said that his classrooms were their feedlots and pastures; he met his clients where they were, and taught them in their real life classrooms. His leadership of the IBEP Bull Test Station is credited with its longevity, even as similar programs have faded in other states. Of his service to Indiana’s beef cattle producers, one nominator said, “He’s been a very unselfish, deserving servant to our industry.”
Hendrix has been active in the America Society of Animal Science, serving as Chairman of the Pasture and Forages Section (1980); Chairman of the Pasture and Forages Committee of the Midwest Section (1982-83); Beef Committee Member (1984-85); Beef Committee Program Chairman (1985-86).
Hendrix received many awards for his professional and industry service. Professional recognition included the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service Junior Recognition Award (1983), USDA, Drought Team Response for Outstanding Service (1989) and the Indiana Extension Educators Association’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Team Award (2002). Industry service awards include: Indiana Beef Cattle Association’s Friend of the Beef Industry (1984); Purdue University Block and Bridle Club Honorary Member (1984); Indiana Forage Council’s Outstanding Service Award (1986) and Certificate of Appreciation (1990); Farm Progress Show Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service and Cooperation (1992); and the Indiana Beef Cattle Association’s Distinguished Service Award (2003).