KANSAS CITY, MO. – Jason McAlister subscribes to the adage: “There is no end to education.” McAlister, who has worked around livestock every day for most of his career and has worked in animal welfare management roles since 1993, with companies such as IBP/Tyson and Triumph Foods, spends most of his time “teaching the craft to others.” He claims to never stop learning and is humble enough to never call himself an “expert.” A passion for teaching and learning about animal welfare is what led McAlister to co-found CloverLeaf Animal Welfare Systems, based in St. Joseph, Mo.

In this week’s MEAT+POULTRY Podcast McAlister talks about the start-up and the challenges it faced almost immediately. He said what started as a small consultancy focused on working with smaller livestock operations in 2017, ramped up in January 2020. With a business plan to lead a diverse team of educators and leaders in the arena of animal welfare and expand its training to operations outside the United States, with on-site training at livestock processing facilities in South America and Central America, McAlister was confident the company would be a success. However, 2020 soon became a challenge for all businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe.

Like every other company, CloverLeaf pivoted to survive the pandemic. McAlister initially developed a series of virtual training sessions along with animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, PhD, professor of animal science at Colorado State University. McAlister’s story of how his program has evolved and grown during the most unlikely circumstances this past year is informative and inspiring.

McAlister’s passion for teaching and learning and his ability to persevere is a classic case of making lemonade in the lemon of a year that was 2020.