Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Hoy nominated to 4-H Hall of Fame

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Aug 01, 2017
Gene Hoy

Dr. Gene Hoy of Richland has been nominated to the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.

Hoy received a letter last month from the state organization inviting him to the induction ceremony Aug. 20 at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The event starts at 3:30 p.m. in the 4-H Exhibits Building.

Coincidentally, the induction ceremony falls on Gene and wife Linda’s 50th anniversary. What a way to celebrate!

Hoy planned to be at the state fair anyway because he works at the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center. He was a veterinarian for more than four decades, and now shares his knowledge of livestock with fairgoers.

“About 80,000 people go through the Animal Learning Center during the fair,” he said. “Sometimes, a cow goes into labor, and people can stand there and watch a calf being born on 10 big screens throughout the building.”


4-H involvement

Earlier this year, 4-H Youth Committee president Mike Schleicher informed Hoy that the committee wished to nominate him for the hall of fame.

“I was really honored,” Hoy said.

The committee interviewed Hoy, and submitted his name and list of accomplishments to the state organization for approval. Among his accolades were helping 4-H’ers in Jefferson and surrounding counties with their livestock. Hoy’s four children — Jill, Mike, Dave and Dan — were all in 4-H. Jill was the fair queen one year, and a few years later Mike showed the grand champion steer.

“My kids really enjoyed 4-H, and we spent a lot of time working on projects as a family,” he said. “They focused on cattle, and had some hogs, too. They did a lot of the work themselves.”

Hoy gave special attention to 4-H’ers in his veterinary practice. He always found time to treat their animals, even if it meant working late at night or on the weekends.

He was a 4-H leader with a local club, and five years ago joined the 4-H Youth Committee, which he has been on ever since.

“People knew that I’d have more time after my retirement, so they asked me to be on the youth committee. I joined because I’ve always gone to the fair to see the kids I’ve worked with through the years,” said the veterinarian.

Hoy said he wasn’t exactly sure what he was agreeing to when he signed up for the youth committee. He learned that the group is about helping 4-H’ers develop their projects and help administer the fair itself. That means working the food booth at the grandstand, setting up exhibits and helping coordinate livestock shows.



Hoy grew up on a farm near Bussey, a small town between Knoxville and Albia. He graduated from Twin Cedars High School in 1963, and matriculated at Iowa State University. He had no doubt or reservation of any kind about what he would study: veterinary medicine. It was a decision he had made years ago.

Hoy and his twin brother joined 4-H at the age of 9. At age 11, their dad bought each of them a Hereford heifer to care for. Sadly, Hoy’s heifer fell ill from sun stroke, so the family summoned a veterinarian.

“He didn’t come until late in the day, and when he was here, he didn’t do much to help,” Hoy recalled. “I said to myself, ‘I can do better than this,’ and made up my mind to become a vet.”

In retrospect, Hoy realizes there was little the vet could do to help his heifer, but at the time the experience lit a fire under him that could not be extinguished.

Hoy graduated from ISU in 1969. He hoped to return to southeast Iowa, and found a job at the vet clinic in Richland owned by Paul Lynch.

“When I moved here, people in town waved at me who didn’t know me. I thought, ‘Hey, this town is OK,’” he recalled.

He worked for Lynch one year before buying the practice from him.


New clinic

In 1977, Hoy built a large animal inpatient facility. It featured a hydraulic tilt table, which allowed him to trim hoofs on cattle while the animal was suspended in the air and turned on its side.

“I trimmed a lot of 4-H’ers’ cattle because no one else around here had a table like that,” he said.

The new building was also outfitted with better surgery equipment, allowing him to do bone pinning and plating.

Hoy’s early business was almost entirely livestock. Respiratory diseases and birthing problems were common reasons Hoy would be called to a farm.

“Sometimes the farmer would notice that the calf wasn’t coming out properly, so they’d give me a call and I’d have to help it come out,” he said.


Veterinary advancements

As the years went by, he treated more dogs and cats. At the time of his retirement, he estimated that half his patients were house pets. He attributes that to people being more concerned about their pets’ welfare.

“When you’re the only vet in a small town, you’re supposed to take care of everything that comes to you,” he said.

After 43 years in practice, he sold the clinic to Dustin Roth in 2012.

Veterinary medicine advanced by leaps and bounds during Hoy’s career. He mentioned more powerful antibiotics and better vaccines as two major advances that have improved animal health.

Hoy also was able to perform more work from his clinic, rather than relying on outside help.

“By the time I retired, we had so much better diagnostics here. I was culturing bacteria, doing blood work, X-rays and a lot of surgeries all in-house,” he said. “In the early days, I had to send a lot of that stuff to a lab.”

Today, Hoy performs management consulting for beef cattle, an animal he’s worked with his whole life. He also raises cattle of his own.

He’s got about 20 head on his 20-acre property near Richland.

“It keeps me off the couch,” he joked.

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