Late last month, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the celebration of Dr. Temple Grandin’s 75th birthday, held on the campus of Colorado State University. Because Grandin has authored MEAT+POULTRY’s “From the Corral,” animal welfare-focused column for the past 40-plus years, I’ve had the honor of working with and regularly corresponding with her for more than 20 years and getting to know her has been one of the highest honors of my career.
I jump at any opportunity to be in the same room with her or collaborate on a project with Temple, just as I did when I was invited to her 70th birthday in 2015. She draws thousands of people each year to hear her speak to the autism community or to meat industry stakeholders on livestock handling issues.
Earlier that day, I had the opportunity to visit the Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC) in Fort Collins and was as impressed as I was inspired at seeing firsthand, still another way Temple is committed to improving the world by improving the lives of animals and people. Temple’s passion for helping people has infectiously inspired others to embrace her giving spirit. People like Sharon Butler, DVM, associate professor of animal science at CSU and the program coordinator at the TGEC, who has dedicated her career to helping children and adults with special needs through equine therapy. During a tour of the facility with Butler, I saw therapists training and teaching riders with a wide variety of physical and mental challenges and saw the happiness and hope on the faces of those riders and their families who accompanied them. I saw how the careful and caring interactions between patients and therapists embodied the facility’s mission as “a place where individuals with physical, emotional, and developmental challenges can heal, where therapists can treat, where students can learn, where scientists can research, and where horses can be studied, cared for and advanced.”
In his remarks at Temple’s 75th celebration, Jim McIngvale, also known as “Mattress Mack,” owner and operator of the Houston-based Gallery Furniture chain, talked about how for Temple, each day is another opportunity to make a difference and she doesn’t consider what she does each day as work. But to the rest of us, what she does each day requires energy and dedication that defines work.
He added, “I think we’d all agree, she’s in the absolute prime of her career, which is most unusual.”
He said what is perhaps even more unusual is Grandin’s “dedication, zeal and unmatched work ethic to make the world a better place for humans and animals.”
Most people strive to work in a career field they enjoy so much that they don’t consider it “work.” I believe the reason Temple “works” is not for the fame or fortune that comes with all the achievements and publicity she has earned. I’m quite sure she hopes others follow in her footsteps by finding meaningful work that makes a difference not only in a specific field, but in the lives of others. In Temple’s case, she’s been able to have a game-changing impact on the meat industry in addition to giving hope and help to families of people with autism in addition to those with special needs. But few people I know have a dedication to “work,” like Temple and, her vision of work-life balance is viewed through a mission-based lens.
Like Mattress Mack said, Grandin’s dedication to making the world a better place is proof positive that, “work, meaningful work, is indeed life’s greatest therapy. Temple learned that work brings meaning and purpose to life and Temple’s life is an exclamation point to the joy of work.
“The Temple Grandin Equine Center is testament to her love of horses, animals and most of all humans.”
Thank you for all you do, Temple, and here’s to 75 being the new 35.