Joseph Hubbard’s farming dreams were more than just counting sheep.
While he was in high school, Hubbard set his sights on becoming the sheep and goat specialist of Kansas. He also wanted to be the largest sheep producer in the state. Today, Hubbard is the unit manager of K-State’s Sheep and Meat Goat Center and a farmer in Olsburg.
“It’s kind of neat to look back and see that I’m somewhat making those goals a reality,” Hubbard said.
After graduating from Blue Valley Randolph High School in 2006, Hubbard enrolled at Hutchinson Community College on a livestock judging scholarship. After a year in Hutch, he planned to transfer to Arizona State University but left before the semester began. “Before the school year started I decided I didn’t like it down there,” he said. Instead, he moved to Lansing Community College in Michigan, where he lived with Janice Swanson, a family friend.
Swanson, chair of Michigan State University’s department of animal science, said she met Hubbard when she was a faculty member at K-State and worked with his father, Alan. Swanson eventually moved to Michigan State, and housed Hubbard while he was in school in Lansing.
“I would have liked to have Joe continue his education at MSU but the homing instinct for Kansas kicked in hard and back he went,” Swanson said.
Hubbard left a lasting impression as a person who is unpretentious and hard working, she said.
“He enjoys and appreciates working with livestock, whether it’s a goat, sheep, horse or cow,” she said. “He also has a business sense that allows him to take some risks and manages to land on his feet.”
Hubbard returned to Kansas in 2009 to finish his last two years of college at K-State, graduating in 2011.
While in Manhattan, Hubbard lobbied one of his instructors, Brian Faris, about creating a unit manager position for the sheep and meat goat center.
He said if the university created the position the center’s work would be more consistent.
“He ended up letting me know they were creating that job, and I applied and ended up getting it,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard is responsible for the welfare of the sheep and goats on the land and helping students who use the animals for classes and labs. K-State raises the sheep and goats for several instructional needs.
Ken Odde, head of K-State’s animal science and industry department, said he’s been impressed with Hubbard’s work.
“In addition to his B.S. degree in animal sciences and industry, Joseph has a great deal of experience in the management of sheep and goats,” Odde said. “He does an excellent job of taking care of our sheep and goats, supervising student workers and general management of the facility.”
One of the funnier aspects of Hubbard’s job is when the younger students from USD 383 come to the center to see the animals.
“You hear a lot of little things from elementary kids,” he said.
One class was visiting the sheep and goats, with one of the goats close to giving birth. One student asked if the goat was married. “I didn’t really know what exactly to say, so I agreed and said yes,” he said. “She promptly said, ‘Well, you can’t have babies if you’re not married.’ Then she proceeded to tell me she wanted to see the husband, so I had to go show her the husband, the billy goat.
“We get a lot of cute comments from kids, and I think all in all they just like to come out and see theseanimals,”hecontinued. “We’re lucky and fortunate enough with sheep and goats kids can interact with them directly without getting hurt. That’s been pretty great for us.” Hubbard’s position at K-State is part-time, which allows him to own and operate his own farm with cows and sheep near Olsburg. “It allows me to be able to work at my place and at K-State and be effective at both of them,” he said. “It’s been really nice.”
Hubbard runs his farm with his wife, Shelby. After returning to Kansas, the couple met at the Pottawatomie County Fair in 2009. The two now have a 5-month-old daughter, Adeline, he said. Joseph said family is important to the Hubbards. They often go to visit Shelby’s side of the family in Marshall County for Sunday night supper. He said the family trips are a good way to keep in touch. “It’s not because we’re overly religious; it’s just a good time to get with family and try to make it a tradition,” he said. “That way our kids grow up with their cousins and they know each other, other than just meeting on the holidays.” Aside from seeing family, raising the animals is Hubbard’s favorite activity.
“Really, working with livestock is the most relaxing thing that we do,” he said.