Dr. Henry L. Classen
Born to Herman and Margaret Classen in 1949, Hank was raised on a farm near Aylsham, Saskatchewan. He attended local primary and secondary schools and graduated high school from Rosthern Junior College. Early in life, Hank met Lynn, the love of his life, and they were married in 1970. Together they have three daughters: Michelle, Tara and Stephanie.
Hank’s passion for poultry started on the family farm, helping with chores, raising bantams and assisting the neighbor with her chickens, ducks and geese. He pursued an education in agriculture, choosing animals over plants, and chickens over larger food production animals. Studying poultry, Hank’s interest in science was influenced by his professor and mentor, Dr. Roy Crawford, as he completed a BSA from the University of Saskatchewan (1971). Hank pursued academia with MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts and his first academic position was Assistant Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. In 1978, he joined the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the U of S where he rose through the ranks to Full Professor and served as Department Head from 2006-2011.
With an exceptional ability to recognize industry needs, Hank fostered research teams to investigate and provide practical solutions. Examples include the development of broiler and turkey lighting programs which maximize bird health and welfare; using enzymes to improve the nutritional value of barley, wheat and other common feed ingredients; improving the protein value of canola meal with innovative processing; and characterizing cold weather broiler transport conditions to improve bird welfare during transportation. Hank’s research findings in poultry welfare, management and nutrition have resulted in practical, applied solutions and have become common practice on poultry farms throughout the world.
Paramount to disseminating research findings and other information to industry was the development of the U of S Poultry Extension Service in 1978. Hank and poultry pathologist, Dr. Craig Riddell, founded this program, supported by industry, which remains the only extension service of its kind across Canada. With many undergraduate students, and over 35 PhD and MSc students, Dr. Classen has guided and mentored many leaders in the poultry industry world-wide, ensuring his leadership and influence will be experienced for decades to come.
Hank’s accomplishments over his career are too numerous to mention but highlights include: becoming a Fellow of the Poultry Science Association (2007), receiving the U of S Outreach and Engagement Award (2008), being named a U of S Distinguished Professor (2013), receiving a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Senior Industry Research Chair in Poultry Nutrition (2013), and inductions into the International Poultry Hall of Fame (Beijing, China, 2016) and the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame (2018).