Paul Rodgers Announces Retirement
April 6, 2018

Paul Rodgers worked for the American sheep industry before the American Sheep Industry Association even existed, and will continue to influence the industry as a producer and occasional consultant long after he retires from ASI on July 1.

ASI's deputy director announced his retirement to association staff in late March and has been working with ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick and Deputy Director Rita Samuelson to craft an exit strategy that will allow him to spend more time working with his family's six-generation sheep operation in West Virginia.

A graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute - now known as Virginia Tech - Rodgers worked as a county extension agent and 4-H educator, then as an extension farm management agent early in his career. He co-founded the National Electronic Marketing Association to sell livestock via computer in the early 1980s - long before the advent of the internet - then worked for the National Livestock Producers Association as assistant manager. Eventually, he found his way to the sheep industry.

His 34 years of industry leadership started with the American Sheep Producers Council - a forerunner to ASI - when he accepted a contract consulting position with ASPC on July 1, 1984. A year later, he joined the staff on a full-time basis. ASPC eventually merged with the National Wool Growers Association and Rodgers has worked in Denver, Washington, D.C., and from his home in West Virginia representing ASPC, NWGA and eventually ASI.

Through the years, he's dealt with everything from animal health to sheep research to lamb marketing to lamb insurance and mandatory price reporting. He's also overseen seven of the eight editions of the Sheep Production Handbook, working with those in academia, as well as experienced producers, to put together the comprehensive resource on sheep.

"I can remember back in high school, they talked about goal setting for your career," said Rodgers, who will turn 65 in May. "My three goals were to be a county agent, be a farmer/rancher and work in the sheep industry. Darn if I didn't get all of that done. My proudest moment was the day they hired me in 1984. At the time it was a temporary contract position, but I'd achieved my goal of working in the sheep industry. More than 30 years later, I was still here."

While he's rarely worked in the same office as the rest of the ASI staff, his contributions to the association have proven invaluable through the years.

"Paul is providing generous notice and transitional support for 2018 as we cover the key responsibilities he manages for the association," said Orwick. "We would prefer to keep him as full-time team member of ASI, but appreciate the opportunity his decision affords he and his family. We congratulate Paul and thank him for the great leadership he provided to all of us."

Look for more on Rodgers and his pending retirement in the May issue of the Sheep Industry News.