In one of Larry Guthrie’s earliest memories, he’s running across a field, proud to show off the bit of milk he’d collected in a dirty, old pail.
Despite receiving a scolding from his mother for not using a clean bucket, Guthrie was hooked. As his father’s dairy operation grew, so did his passion for the industry.
Guthrie, a retired professor in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Department of Animal and Dairy Science (ADS), has spent more than five decades advancing and advocating for dairy science practices. His dedication was honored in August when he was announced as the 2022 Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Award recipient. The award recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and their contribution to agriculture.
“It’s bigger than me; it’s much bigger than me … The commodities in Georgia agriculture are tremendous,” Guthrie said. “But it’s an honor – it’s unbelievable.”
A lifetime of service to the dairy industry
After serving as an Extension dairy specialist at Auburn University, Guthrie left for industry before coming to UGA in 1977.
He was named head of Extension Dairy Science in 1983 and remained in the role until the early 1990s when the CAES administrative structure changed, and he continued as professor of animal and dairy science and leader of the Extension dairy group.
Even after retiring in 1999 after 23 years of service, Guthrie’s legacy lives on within — and beyond — the department.
“He saw a need to develop young people further and he made it happen. He saw a need to inspire people to believe in agriculture and he grew it. He saw a need for a way for young people to fellowship around the dairy animal and he built it,” said Jillian Bohlen, associate professor in ADS and state dairy Extension specialist. “This true servant heart is what I believe inspired his entire career at UGA as he worked to support, grow and encourage the dairy industry. I know that I am just one of many that has Dr. Larry Guthrie to thank. From the day I first met him as a child until now, his excitement for the work that he does, the lives he influences and the industry he serves is palpable.”
Bohlen recently received a UGA Creative Teaching Award and the CAES Early Career Teaching Award in addition to being named the 2022 American Dairy Science Association Outstanding Advisor.
While at CAES, Guthrie prided himself on youth advocacy within the industry in addition to teaching, research and outreach through UGA Cooperative Extension. He is credited with starting the Commercial Dairy Heifer Show, which has introduced more than 6,000 4-H and FFA participants to the dairy industry.
In lieu of gifts at his retirement celebration, the Department of Animal and Dairy Science developed the Larry D. Guthrie Dairy Youth Leadership Award in his honor. The award promotes interest and involvement in dairy projects and encourages youth who are interested in a career in the dairy industry regardless of whether they have a farming background.
“I can think of no activity more influential in my life's path than the Commercial Dairy Heifer Project. It developed my love of cattle, gave me confidence, taught me responsibility, fostered teamwork and encouraged a sense of community,” Bohlen said. “All of that would not be possible without people like Dr. Guthrie that give selfishly to others. His development, in collaboration with others, of the Commercial Dairy Heifer Project is the leading reason why I now sit at the University of Georgia as a dairy scientist.”