13 December 2023

Temple the Trailblazer

Renowned activist in 4H livestock and autism visits Waialeʻe

Temple the Trailblazer

Back in the day, the Waialeʻe Livestock Research Station was a true community resource for Oahu’s North Shore. The sprawling facility, a stone’s throw from today’s surfing mecca, once provided invaluable services as the area’s primary abattoir and center for livestock feed and harvesting research. Over the years, Waialeʻe fell into disrepair, and today, a major issue faced by the Hawaiʻi livestock industry is an extremely limited livestock slaughter capacity.

Which is why Extension faculty, HNFAS students, and North Shore stakeholders were stoked to hear that Temple Grandin was coming to town to support the renovation and possible re-kickstarting of Waialeʻe. A faculty member and animal behaviorist at Colorado State University, Temple is a prominent and widely cited proponent for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter. She’s also a 4-H alumni and international spokesperson on autism.

“Temple has had significant influence in the design and construction of efficient and humane livestock-handling systems across the U.S. and across the globe,” says Jeff Goodwin. “As a high-functioning individual on the autism spectrum, she’s also an outspoken proponent of autism rights and neurodiversity.”

Temple’s primary reason for visit was to consult with lifelong North Shore resident Paul Eguires, who was eager to meet her and hear the knowledge and experience of this livestock industry leader. He was particularly interested in new concepts of efficient and humane livestock-handling facilities, as he plans to return the site’s slaughter capability to a functioning state.

As a highly sought-after speaker by families who have been touched by autism, after touring Waialeʻe, Temple went to the Urban Garden Center. There, she spoke to a crowd of the autism community. 

“It became obvious to the crowd that the way autistic kids experience the world relates directly to how Temple Grandin looks at the livestock facilities she plans and constructs,” says Jeff. “These two fields of expertise, animal behavior and world-perception of an autistic youth, have many common elements to them.  Temple uses her world-perception as an autistic person to design the most humane animal-handling facilities in the world.” 

In fact, the mission of her work in agriculture and her work in helping families touched by autism have a common goal.

“Making the lives of others better (human and animal), doing something of lasting value with your life, that’s the meaning of life,” says Temple. “It’s that simple.” 

Read more about Dr. Temple Grandin.

Photos by Austen Kaneshiro.

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