How did you get here?

How did you get here?

Sep 19
Lucas Neira, Animal Sciences graduate student

Whenever I meet some, they always ask me, “How did you get here?” I enjoy answering this question. I’m honored to talk about the path I’ve traveled the last few years, the path that always keeps pushing me forward. I have an amazing family that I have always been able to count on for back-up, and I’ve gotten to know so many people with such amazing stories who have supported me and strengthen me to keep following my dreams.

I realized early in my life that I was passionate about cattle production. I was born in a region of Brazil known for its production of oranges and sugarcane. My parents worked in culinary and construction fields, so where did this passion for beef cattle production come from?

When I was 14, I went to a rural school, and because my parents were not involved in my desired field, I started to travel all over Brazil, either as an intern or as a seasonal worker, to experience cattle production. These experiences gave me the chance to learn amazing things, and 13 years later, I’m still working in beef cattle, proof that I took the right way.

Four years ago, I graduated in veterinary medicine and began to travel around the world to work for great companies in Africa and in South America. But my greatest decision yet happened two years ago when I left my stable career to come to the United States to learn from one of the finest beef cattle producers in the world.

I arrived in Montana without knowing how to speak a single English word.  The amazing Norby family hosted me, and I spent a year learning basic cattle operations and the exciting English language. I soon connected with Dr. Dan Shike, a beef cattle researcher at the University of Illinois, who offered me the opportunity to learn from him. I joined the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center’s Research Farm, an experience that awakened in me a strong desire to learn even more.

Today, I am writing as a Graduate Student at the University of Illinois. Looking back at my path so far, I’m encouraged to put all of my efforts into this new experience. I plan to do my best as I learn and develop projects as part of the ACES family.

Lucas and his friends in Africa, 2007