“It’s a real honor to be chosen to join this illustrious group,” said Bill Fisher, retired University of Illinois swine teaching specialist.
In the 1990s, the Illinois Purebred Swine Council created this award to recognize swine breeders and families that have made a significant impact on the Illinois purebred swine industry.
Fisher was raised in Nowata, Okla., where he was active in 4-H and received his first pig, a Hampshire gilt, through the “Sears Roebuck Gilt Program.” This gilt was a champion in the Sears show and placed well at the Tulsa State Fair, Fisher said. He then went on to breed her to a boar raised by the Meeker family of Delavan, Ill.
This was just the beginning of Fisher’s tie to the Illinois purebred swine industry. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, he went on to work for Wilson Meat Company for a short period of time while working under Jerry Thurman.
In May 1974, he was selected as the University of Illinois Moorman Swine Farm Manager and began pursuing his master’s degree in animal sciences. In 1976, he received his degree and became the manager of Farmer City Pork Farm, a 700-sow unit in Farmer City, Ill. Two years later, he and his wife, Connie, moved back to Nowata, Okla., to build a feeder pig production unit.
Fisher worked for Permeator Oil Company in the late 1970s and early 1980s where he rose through the ranks to become the National Production Supervisor and Field Engineer. He supervised more than a thousand oil and gas wells with production in six states.
When the oil industry slowed down, Fisher moved to Georgia to become the general manager of Callway Farms in Rayle, Ga. This diverse operation produced 30,000 hogs per year and 750,000 turkeys.
In 1988, an opportunity of a lifetime came along and brought him back to the University of Illinois where he became the manager of all three swine research units. He provided leadership throughout with the construction and start-up of the new imported swine farm, and has been an active player in groundbreaking research at the U of I.
Nearly 21 years later, Fisher moved to campus and began teaching the swine sections of the introductory animal science classes and assisting with the production classes. While at U of I, he heavily promoted purebred swine, producing several outstanding Durocs in the 1990s.
He served on the Illinois Purebred Swine Council and held the position of president for four years. He remains an active director in the Illinois Pork Producers Association and was recently appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Livestock. He is an active pork promoter – presenting more than 75 seminars throughout the state with the National Pork Board’s program, “Operation Main Street.”
Neal Merchen, head of the Department of Animal Science, said, “Bill Fisher has been associated with the purebred swine industry in Illinois for more than 35 years and has been an excellent representative of the university to this important producer group. He’s a deserving recipient of this honor.
“His work with ‘Operation Main Street’ has opened the eyes of many nonagricultural audiences to the high standards of production and animal care that are observed by pork producers throughout the country.”
In July, Fisher retired from the U of I. He and his wife reside in rural Pesotum and have three children – Rachel, Frank and Stuart.
News Source: Bill Fisher, 217-333-0625, [email protected]
News Writer: Jennifer Shike, 217-244-0888, [email protected]