Dr. Keith C. Behnke Receives AFIA Distinguished Service Award
Keith C. Behnke, Ph.D., of Kansas State University is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the American Feed Industry Association.
Behnke has been a member of the faculty of K-State’s Department of Grain Science and Industry for nearly 33 years. He has taught and developed a number of courses in the Feed Science Program over the years, and he has had a positive effect on hundreds of students as a result. He is particularly associated with teaching the introductory feed course, Feed Technology I, and a course called Qualities of Food and Feed Ingredients. He also is noted for his development of an extrusion course.
“Keith is internationally recognized for his knowledge of the industry regarding manufacturing processes, government regulations and the industry requirements,” said Keith Epperson, AFIA vice president of manufacturing and training. “Combine Keith’s knowledge with his unique ability to educate and communicate this information to both newcomers and veterans of the industry and you can understand what makes Keith a valuable leader in every way.”
AFIA’s DSA is the highest honor the organization bestows on members. Since 1981, only 26 individuals have received this elite award for outstanding, long-term support to AFIA and the entire feed industry. Befitting its highly select nature, the DSA is not necessarily presented annually.
“While I’ve appreciated the recognition that comes with being selected to serve on various campus, national and international panels and committees, being selected to receive the AFIA Distinguished Service Award is very special to me,” said Behnke. “The feed industry has provided so many wonderful opportunities for me and, especially, our Feed Science graduates, that it has always been an honor for me to help the industry in any way possible to be successful and sustainable. Being selected to receive the AFIA DSA leads me to hope that I have, indeed, made a difference, and I truly appreciate being selected as the recipient of this prestigious award.”
Students have always been the focus of Behnke’s efforts. He typically has 18-25 undergraduate advisees and as many as five or six graduate students in his department. He also is a graduate advisory committee member for approximately 30 graduate students in other K-State departments.
A former student’s comments about Behnke’s instruction count as Behnke’s most satisfying career moment. While reading an article in Grain Journal magazine last year, Behnke came across a quote by Charles Lickteig (FSM ‘01), the manager of a Cargill feed mill in Martinsburg, Pa. Lickteig’s plant was selected the 2008 Feed Mill of the Year in a competition sponsored by AFIA and Feedstuffs.
When asked by the writer to cite his “biggest career influence,” Lickteig said, “Keith Behnke, professor of Grain Science at Kansas State University. He was the first person I talked to about the feed industry when I visited K-State. He was open and honest about the strengths and challenges facing the industry. He really cares about his students and what they learn in his classes.”
After reading the article and Lickteig’s warm and generous remarks about him, Behnke said, “All of the rest of it pales in comparison to that quote!”
Besides Behnke’s strong commitment to his students, he also has served K-State in other ways. For example, for many years he was on the College of Agriculture’s Academic Standards Committee, its Scholarship Committee and also on several position search committees. He served two six-year terms on the Faculty Senate as a College of Agriculture representative.
Over his 33-year career at K-State, Behnke has received a great deal of national and international recognition for his work related to livestock feed research and production. He served on a Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization committee in Rome that was engaged in writing best management practices for safe feed production for the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a U.N. body that meets annually to set world food standards. He also served on a FAO/WHO investigative committee on the feed impact on food safety. He participated in a National Academy of Science Committee on Animal Nutrition that was charged with rewriting the report on the nutrient requirements of dogs and cats. Today he is on a NAS/Institute of Medicine Committee that is conducting an external review of the Food and Drug Administration’s role in ensuring safe food.
In addition to teaching courses at K-State and serving on various professional committees, Behnke has completed and published the results of numerous research projects related to the effects of feed processing on animal nutrition, ingredient development and evaluation, and the safe use of feed additives in livestock feeds. He has traveled to 43 countries to make presentations, conduct in-country short courses and provide technical consulting to improve feed processing.
Behnke received his undergraduate degree in feed technology from K-State in 1968; he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in grain science from K-State in 1973 and 1975, respectively.
Behnke grew up on a farm his family still owns in Kinsley, Kan. He and his wife, Sharon Behnke, have two grown sons and two grandchildren. Craig, the oldest son, is the research director of a major biotech company in California, and the other son, Brad, is on the faculty at the University of Florida. Among Behnke’s hobbies are collecting antiques, woodworking, fishing and other outdoor activities and volunteer work with Optimist International.
Behnke is the third industry expert employed by K-State to receive AFIA’s DSA. Robert R. McEllhiney and Dr. Robert W. Schoeff each received the award in 1992 in recognition of their many contributions to the industry.