Courtesy of iGrow.org --
Russ Daly, SDSU Professor in the Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences Department, SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian works closely with veterinarians across the state to understand livestock and pet owners’ resource and information needs.
Courtesy of iGrow.org -- Russ Daly, SDSU Professor in the Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences Department, SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian works closely with veterinarians across the state to understand livestock and pet owners’ resource and information needs.


By Lura Roti for SDSU Extension


South Dakota State University recently recognized Russ Daly with the F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Service in Extension/Outreach. Daly is an SDSU Professor in the Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences Department, the SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian.

“Dr. Daly has dedicated his life to serving the community and stakeholders of South Dakota, the nation and the world by providing the highest quality outreach through applied research, scholarly output, consultations and the development of relationships with the public,” said Jane Christopher-Hennings, Head of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences Department at SDSU.

Service to South Dakotans, their livestock and companion animals, has been the mission of Daly’s diverse career.

“Veterinary medicine is a wonderful profession that has provided me with so many different opportunities,” said Daly, who began his career as a rural, large and small animal veterinarian. “Throughout my career I have had the wonderful opportunity to truly understand the relationship between people and their animals and work to keep humans and animals healthy.”

Growing up on a diversified grain and livestock farm in Brown County, Daly said he always knew he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to remain closely connected to land and livestock. Initially, he didn’t consider veterinary medicine.

When he first enrolled at SDSU, it was as an Agricultural Engineering student.

It wasn’t a good fit.

Daly tried other majors, but he wasn’t content.

Then, while reading a profile article on a local veterinarian in The Collegian, Daly’s career goal became clear.

“A light bulb went off. This was the career I’d been looking for. As a veterinarian I could stay involved in agriculture, be part of a small community and, be intellectually challenged every day with the science and medicine involved in keeping animals healthy,” Daly said.

In 1990, Daly received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University and was asked to join the private practice in Montrose, South Dakota where he had completed his preceptorship.

During his years in private practice, along with pets, Daly’s clientele represented nearly all aspects of animal agriculture. He worked with cow/calf herds, feedlots, dairy herds and swine facilities.

“Rural South Dakota is a great place to be a veterinarian,” he said, adding that today, he calls upon his experience often.

“I learned so much from the livestock producers I worked with,” he said. “At first, as a new veterinarian, I wasn’t very confident - it took time, mentorship from more experienced veterinarians, mentorship from livestock producers I worked with and a lot of experience.”

Throughout his career, Daly says it is the human aspect of his work that is most rewarding.

“The most enjoyable part of veterinary work was interacting with clients. In private practice I got to know their families and operations well, and many clients became my friends,” Daly said.

In fact, it was the opportunity to serve more South Dakotans that appealed to Daly when he was asked to join the SDSU Extension team and South Dakota State University faculty in 2005.

Daly saw his new role as a way to utilize his practical, private practice experience and collaborate with SDSU faculty and researchers to solve health challenges facing South Dakota’s livestock producers and the general public.

“I get to investigate interesting questions and try to find answers,” he said.

In addition to owners of pets and livestock, today as Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian Daly’s clientele has expanded to encompass students, human and animal health researchers, faculty and veterinarians across the state and country.

Daly’s ability to connect with those he serves is not overlooked, explained Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota State Veterinarian, S.D. Animal Industry Board in a letter of recommendation.

“Dr. Daly’s resume is impressive and speaks volumes as to the many qualifications that he possesses which make him an ideal candidate for the F.O. Butler Award. It is not only that which is listed on his resume, however, that makes him deserving of the award. Rather, it is also the humble and dedicated manner in which Dr. Daly interacts with those whom he serves,” Oedekoven wrote.

 As the SDSU Extension Veterinarian, Daly works closely with veterinarians across the state to understand livestock and pet owners’ resource and information needs. Through bi-weekly news columns, journal articles and seminars, Daly provides research-based information and education to veterinarians and their clients.

 When a disease outbreak occurs or a new disease appears in the state, Daly relies on the state’s veterinary network to keep him informed, aiding his  work with researchers at the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory to implement testing procedures, develop tests and treatment plans.

In his role as State Public Health Veterinarian, Daly works closely with those in human medicine. Together with medical doctors, he helped launched South Dakota One Health, a working group focused on public health education and prevention of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans or humans to animals.

“There is a lot of contact between humans and animals, particularly in South Dakota where agriculture and livestock production is such an important part of our economy,” explained Susan Anderson, MD, Professor and Chair of Family Medicine Department at University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and Director of Frontier and Rural Medicine Program. “Dr. Daly has worked as a vet in a small community. He understands what it is like to live and work in rural South Dakota - these are the populations we are trying to impact.”

When Daly joined SDSU Extension and SDSU, he was hired based on his field experience and ability to communicate. While maintaining a demanding work schedule, Daly received a Master of Science in 2013 from SDSU.

Daly pours his heart, soul and intellect into every aspect of his work.

In 2013, he served as Interim Department Head of the SDSU Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, and Director of the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (ADRDL); he serves on the South Dakota One Health working group; he is chair of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Animal Contact in Public Settings Compendium Committee; serves as chair of the SD Veterinary Medical Association Continuing Education Committee and coordinates outreach for the SDSU Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department and South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory.

In addition to the F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Service in Extension/Outreach, Daly has been named Outstanding Faculty Member in Extension, by the SDSU Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture and has been nominated as the Ag-Bio Teacher of the Year.