Temple Grandin's, Ph.D., latest project, a HBO movie about her life and career, solidifies her status as the most-recognized personality working in our industry today.
Scheduled to premiere in February 2010, HBO Films' production of "Temple Grandin," starring Claire Danes in the title role, chronicles the industry icon's life through the 1970s and depicts her evolution from a profoundly autistic child, who didn't speak until the age of 4, to the world's leading authority on animal welfare and the design of livestock handling facilities. Grandin has also inspired millions of people impacted by autism by demonstrating it is a hurdle not a roadblock to a successful, productive life.
The movie begins when Grandin is 17 and is visiting her aunt's ranch in Arizona the summer before starting school at Franklin Pierce College. Her exposure to ranch life and livestock production began here and is the basis for the first half of the movie. Depictions of her challenges in dealing with other people juxtaposed with her amazing ability to think in pictures to excel in the academic areas of animal science and engineering was a balancing act that she says was very true to life.
The movie's second half chronicles the challenges Grandin faced after graduating from college as she pursued a career in designing and building livestock handling facilities for feedlots and slaughtering plants. As a visual thinker, Grandin distinctly remembers the day she made her decision to work in the livestock industry, and it is depicted just as she recalls it happening. "There's a great scene where a feedlot is presented as a door to opportunity," she recollects. She blazed through that door despite being one of the first women to work out in the yards.
In September, Grandin flew to Los Angeles and screened the final version of the movie alongside a handful of HBO executives. She was pleased with what she saw, in part because it preserves her hard-earned legacy.
Grandin is a faculty member of Colorado State University's Department of Animal Science and authored the handling and facilities chapter in the American Sheep Industry Association's Sheep Production Handbook.
Reprinted in part from MeatPoultry.com