Alumni Spotlight: Jay Mattison, National Dairy Herd Information Association

January 4, 2021

Jay MattisonJay Mattison graduated from Iowa State with a B.S. in dairy science in 1981 and continued his education to earn an M.S. in animal production breeding with a minor in ag econ in 1983. During his time at ISU, he served as a Cyclone Guide for the Student Alumni Association, a student rep for the ISU Athletic Council, a R.A., co-chair of the Milk Maid Contest and was a member of the American Dairy Science Association – Student Affiliate Division. He was also the treasurer and vice president of the Dairy Science Club and is proud of its strong legacy. 

Now, Mattison serves as the CEO of the National Dairy Herd Information Association (NDHIA). The NDHIA is the trade association for dairy information and aims to promote accuracy, credibility, and uniformity of records. In his role, Jay oversees the program for quality certification, how data is collected and handled, dairy production and management and genetics and genomics. His focus is primarily on the external herd side of the business, working out from the herds to varying sectors including feed companies, animal health, artificial insemination, the USDA and extension. His favorite part is collaborating and building bridges while providing outreach and researching new tools that herds and flocks across the country can use.

“Iowa State provided a great experience and was a launching pad for my career,” says Mattison of his time spent here. His time in the dairy science program provided him with applicable knowledge and a wide variety of core and elective courses. His favorite class was Livestock Heritage, which focused on breed development and sparked his interest in animal breeding, genetics and genomics. 

Mattison encourages students to be proud of Iowa State’s legacy and the tradition they are playing a part in. “Understand the legacy of the university’s alumni and rich history. Agricultural history is part of the fiber and backbone of our land grant university.” He also stresses the importance of building connections and networking with professors and students inside and outside the department. Learning takes place through coursework, clubs and activities, and time spent with professors. A favorite quote of his comes from the Memorial Union wall, “We come to college not alone to prepare to make a living, but to learn to live a life. – M J Riggs 1883.” Mattison explains, “It’s not all about the formal education; it’s about learning how to take it and apply it to build a career and a life.”

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