Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Nationally and internationally renowned educator, university administrator, and a leader in beef production and meat animal evaluation.
Born 1940 | Artist: Richard Steward Halstead (born 1947)
Impact & Accomplishments
Dr. Gary Minish was raised on the purebred Hereford family farm in Dysart, Iowa. His father John was a prominent cattle breeder and livestock judge who taught his son much about breeding, selecting, and showing cattle.
Dr. Minish began his teaching career in 1962 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where he was ultimately named Department Head of Animal and Poultry Sciences in 1994. Over his 40 years of service he has been a teacher, intercollegiate livestock judging team coach, student mentor, and extension specialist. He served as Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University from 2004 until his retirement in 2010. He is the recipient of numerous agriculture education and industry awards and widely recognized for his improvements to academic programs for animal science and agriculture. Today, Dr. Minish and his wife Roberta live in Plano, Texas.
During his career, Dr. Minish contributed significantly to the livestock industry in the U.S. and abroad, as well as to higher education at every level. Early in his career he recognized the need for leaner, more heavily muscled and faster growing cattle. He set out to educate the industry on the benefits of changing from the smaller, fatter cattle of the 1950s and 1960s. He wrote and spoke extensively on the subject, including co-authoring a text book about beef production and management that supports the type change.
Because of his expertise and passion, he became one of the most sought after beef cattle show judges in the 1970s and 1980s. He officiated at national shows for 10 breeds of cattle in over 30 states and in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Scotland, and Uruguay. He judged at nearly every leading American show including the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago, the National Western in Denver and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville.
Did You Know?
As a 4-Her, Dr. Minish exhibited Grand Champion steers at the Iowa State Fair and the American Royal which paid his way through college. In 1958 he graduated from a country high school with 11 in his graduating class and enrolled as a first generation student in Animal Science at Iowa State University.
In 1994, Dr. Minish was appointed department head of the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech, which was merged under his leadership and designated a University Exemplary Department by the provost for three years straight. Under his leadership, the department hired 10 new faculty members. He also served as associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech as undergraduate enrollment doubled to over 650 students. In the classroom and among the faculty, Dr. Minish was known as personable, funny, inspiring, and good at handing out nicknames.
“He could inspire you in whatever way to get the best out of you,” C.G. Thornhill, president and general manager of worldwide cattle exporting company T.K. Exports and a 1975 Virginia Tech graduate of animal science, says. “He was sort of like a college football or basketball coach — he could analyze the student pretty fast.”
The Minish family was a longtime breeder and exhibitor of champion Hereford cattle throughout the U.S. During his youth, Minish exhibited the champion steer at the Chicago International, a Hereford he called “The Real McCoy,” and the grand champion steer at the American Royal in Kansas City, also a Hereford.