Blake Foraker – Washington’s new meat scientist

A very warm welcome to Dr. Blake Foraker who joined the Department of Animal Sciences faculty as an assistant professor in July 2022. He was hired to revive and refresh the department’s meat science undergraduate and graduate level courses and help fulfill Extension needs in the state for meat science education. He is off to an impressive start during his first year at WSU!

Blake Foraker

Foraker grew up in south central Kansas, northwest of Wichita, where his family owns a small farm. He began competing in meat judging contests as a high school student. During his undergraduate program in animal science at Kansas State University, Foraker excelled at meat and livestock judging. He was named to the All-American Meat Judging Team in 2015 and the All-American Livestock Judging Team in 2016. In addition, Foraker was overall high individual and a member of the KSU livestock judging team that earned reserve national championship honors at the North American International Livestock Exposition in 2016. He was honored by the American Meat Science Association with an undergraduate achievement award in 2017 and today is a professional member of the AMSA.

After graduating from KSU in 2016 with a BS in animal science, Foraker continued his education at Colorado State University where he received an MS in meat science in 2018 and at Texas Tech University where he earned a PhD in meat science in 2022. His early research efforts focused on meat animal growth, carcass composition, and eating quality. His most recent research addressed carcass and meat characteristics of crossbred beef x dairy cattle, a rapidly growing breeding practice in the U.S.

As a graduate student at CSU and TTU, Foraker coached several champion meat judging and meat animal evaluation teams. Since joining WSU, he recruited a group of students who formed the WSU meat judging team, which had not existed in over 50 years. After hundreds of hours of practice, the WSU team won the first two contests they entered against teams with much more experience and placed fifth in the National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest held at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, in March.

In addition to his dedication to and enthusiasm for coaching, Foraker is also committed to educating undergraduate students in the classroom and laboratory. He is currently teaching an introduction to meat science course and a livestock and carcass evaluation class and will be teaching an advanced meat evaluation course in fall semester. He is working on preparing an independent study practicum in meat marketing and hopes to add an advanced meat science course in the future.

Meat Judging Team 2023
Judging team members evaluate meat for a contest. Courtesy Blake Foraker

Foraker’s Extension program is also off to a good start. His Extension activities are geared toward educating youth and their mentors about meat evaluation. In mid-March, Foraker launched his Extension activities by hosting the Cougar Invitational Meat Judging Clinic & Contest for 150 high school-aged students and their parents and coaches. He also plans on interacting with the state’s youth at county fairs and providing them with learning opportunities that entice them to seek a college degree in the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU. Future Extension programs will expand to educating livestock producers and working with the industry in the state of Washington.

When Foraker has free time he enjoys fishing, running, and judging livestock shows. We wish him the best of luck catching his first salmon!