It was a rare moment for Phil Bass. That's “Dr. Phil” to all who know the corporate meat scientist for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand.

Rare because national honors don't come around often, and rare because the naturally talkative Bass was so taken aback.

“When I got the phone call, I was speechless,” he admits.

The call from Vance Publishing's Agribusiness Group was to notify Bass he'd been named one of the company's 40 Under 40.

Started just last year, 40 Under 40 recognizes those judged most likely to make a difference for their leadership and commitment in advancing the cause to double food production by 2050, says Vance's Greg Johnson.

“These are 40 of the brightest leaders in the agriculture industry, and we hope readers of all our brands are inspired by the work these young people are doing,” he says.

As for Bass, who soon regained his eloquence, the first honor was “just to be nominated” by colleagues within the brand.

“I did know about it, because I gave them my birthday and I think the spelling of Ferndale (California), my hometown,” he says. “But knowing that they see what I do and appreciate what I do, that means a lot.”

Certified Angus Beef LLC President John Stika wrote in a nominating letter this summer, “Phil is a natural teacher, and shares an engaging mix of meat science and the beef production story with leaders and influencers invested in our food supply.

“These dialogues invariably generate meaningful and impactful conversations about modern beef production, challenging misperceptions and myths and allowing individuals to understand the realities themselves,” Stika wrote, calling Bass a forward-thinking, creative and engaging leader.

The adjunct meat science professor at Colorado State University (CSU) has been with the brand for five years, living near its headquarters in Wooster, Ohio, with his wife Tina and son Vincent. Before taking on his current role in 2011, Bass was executive account manager for the Canadian market. But he's been teaching for 10 years, first as a graduate instructor at his alma mater, California Polytechnic State University.

“I don't think I'd be able to do what I do, quite to the extent, in academia,” he says now. “The original direction that I had was to go back into academia and teach, and CAB has really allowed me to do that.”

Those who take in his riveting blend of theatre and meat science wonder how much of that is an act. The answer is, not much.

“It doesn't matter where I go, this is me. This is all you get,” Bass says. “I don't know how to be anything different. It's just that CAB allowed me to really start to grow in that respect and do what just comes naturally to me, to teach, ya know. To be recognized for that, that's just beyond words. It's just really, really cool.”

For all his imaginative powers, the extroverted scientist couldn't see himself on the honored list before that phone call.

“This is something that other people achieve. I would probably be one of the people writing the nomination, or the guy giving the pat on the back to the other folks,” Bass says. “My really good friend and former colleague [at CSU] Dr. Dale Warner, he was in the inaugural class, just a wonderful person and when I saw him getting that, I said ‘oh it couldn't have happened to a better person.' And then Tanya Amen (genetic service director of Angus Genetics, Inc.), they're up-and-coming legends.”

Still, Bass feels no pressure now that he's on the same list; he will just keep on being Dr. Phil.

“I can't change who I am,” he says. But part of that does gradually change the man. “That's just who I am, too, always trying to get better, challenging myself – but this isn't the pressure. No, the pressure's just every day, waking up and saying, ‘What can I do to get better?' And for my family, for my community, for my company and for the agricultural community, really. That's what it's all for, yeah.”

Vance Publishing's Agribusiness Group will feature profiles of Bass and the other 39 honorees in November and December print editions of its nine publications, and all will be posted on

Don't forget to BOOKMARK  
Cattle Today Online!