Department of Animal Sciences

Don Nelson




Don Nelson

Extension Beef Specialist
Office: Clark Hall 121
Phone: 509-335-2922

CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: Many of the challenges faced by today’s livestock producers and land managers are not production problems, but rather people and environmental problems and government regulations. The purpose of this program area is to build capacity in people to work collaboratively to create their own desired future outcomes while sustaining and restoring the earth’s natural systems. In many cases, this requires learning new skills and altering human behavior. It involves training in consensus building, conflict resolution, leadership development and whole-systems decision-making.

HOLISTIC DECISION-MAKING: The holistic decision-making framework is goal driven and simultaneously considers both the short- and long-term effects on the three elements of sustainability (i.e., economic viability, environmental soundness and social acceptability). All decisions are tested to assure that actions taken will lead to achievement of the holistic goal. When decisions deal with complex, adaptive, self-organizing living systems, such as livestock production and natural resource management, they have a good chance of being wrong. Therefore, it is important to develop a dynamic monitoring system to detect early warning signs that we might be getting off-track relative to achieving our holistic goal. This monitoring system is a continuous feedback loop that involves planning-monitoring-controlling-replanning.

Extension Programs :

  1. Project Leader, Beefing Up the Palouse-A Sustainable Alternative  to the Conservation Reserve Program, Washington Ag Pilots Program  (2007-2009).
  2. Project Leader, Grassfed Beef Production Systems/Pasture Mgmt. Team, WSU Ext. (2008-2009).
  3. Principal Investigator, USDA-SARE Implementing Noxious Weed Control through Multi-Species Grazing project (2004-2007).
  4. Facilitator, Dworshak Reservoir Master Plan Revision Recommendations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2007).
  5. Adjunct member of the National Riparian Service Team (USFS & BLM).
  6. Facilitator, Clearwater Basin Elk Collaborative (2003-2004).
  7. Facilitator, USFS/Idaho Woolgrowers Sheep Collar/Grazing Allotment Management Issue (2004-2005).
  8. Director, Creating a Sustainable Future for Fish, Water and People/Consensus Institute project (1999-2003).
  9. Director, USDA- SARE/PDP Noxious Weed Control through Multi-Species Grazing project (2002-2003).
  10. Director, W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded ($1.07M) Integrated Food and Farming Systems/Holistic Management project (1995-1999).
  11. Principal Investigator, W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded Consensus Institute–Phase I (1997-1999).
  12. Coordinator, Washington Strategic Alliances Value-Based Beef Marketing project (1993-94).
  13. Coordinator, Washington's Integrated Resource Management program, Strategic Ranch Management (1990-1993).

Selected Publications:

  1. Nelson, D.D., Healing the Land through Multi-Species Grazing (40 minutes).  2004. (VT0119)
  2. Nelson, D.D., Mapping Your Way to a Sustainable Future (37 minutes). 1999.  (VT0100)

Extension Bulletins:

  1. Willett, Gayle S., Herbert R. Hinman and Donald D. Nelson. Beef Heifer Replacement: A Computer Program for Analyzing the Economics of Raising versus Buying Beef Replacement Heifers. June 1995.
  2. Nelson, D.D., Bull selection and breeding soundness evaluation for the beef producer. EB 1601. May 1991. Reprinted June 1994.
  3. Willett, G.S. and D.D. Nelson: Analyzing the economics of raising versus buying beef replacement heifers. EB 1710. May 1992.
  4. Nelson, D.D., Developing the beef replacement heifer. EB 1598. March 1991.
Department of Animal Sciences , 116 Clark Hall, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6310
Phone: 509-335-5523, Fax: 509-335-1082, Email