AWI Honors Prolific Animal Behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin with Schweitzer Medal

US Rep. Don Beyer, Dr. Temple Grandin, and Sandra Eskin
Photo by AWI

Washington, DC—Dr. Temple Grandin, a world-renowned proponent of the humane treatment of farmed animals, received the 2024 Schweitzer Medal from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) in a ceremony Thursday.

For more than 60 years, the Schweitzer Medal has been a symbol of outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a famed scientist and humanitarian internationally known for his philosophy focused on the value of all living things. In 1951, he gave permission to AWI to strike a medal in his honor, to be awarded to individuals in recognition of their exemplary efforts to prevent animal suffering. In December 1953, a gold replica of the medal was presented to Dr. Schweitzer by Dr. Charles Joy in Oslo, Norway, where Dr. Schweitzer had gone to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

“This year, we present the Schweitzer Medal to Dr. Temple Grandin in recognition of her enduring advocacy for the humane treatment of farmed animals,” said Susan Millward, AWI’s executive director and chief executive officer.

Raised in the Boston suburbs, Dr. Grandin launched her professional career in the beef cattle industry in the 1970s, working on feed yards in rural Arizona. Her design innovations and her ability to convince key players within the meat industry, including fast-food restaurant chains, to support and implement better animal handling practices have resulted in meaningful reforms. Dr. Grandin was among the first scientists to call for the phasing out of gestation crates for pregnant sows, and she is a strong proponent of transparency and auditing in animal agriculture.

In 2010 — the same year that the award-winning biographical film Temple Grandin was released — TIME magazine named Dr. Grandin one of the world’s 100 most influential people in the “heroes” category. She has authored hundreds of scientific articles and textbooks and has served as a professor of animal science at Colorado State University for more than 30 years.

In presenting the Schweitzer Medal to Dr. Grandin, US Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) said: “Few people can be said to have more impact on the welfare of the animals that we slaughter, that we eat, than Dr. Grandin. Her passion for relating to nonhuman animals has benefited billions of animals worldwide, starting on farms, in transport and handling, and even in the process of slaughter.”

Dr. Grandin has credited autism for providing her with a unique perspective in relating to nonhuman animals. “One of the things that I think has helped me in my work with animals is that I am a totally visual thinker,” she said upon accepting the award. “So the very first work I ever did, I looked at what cattle were seeing when they were going through the chutes at the feedlots to get vaccinated. ... I didn’t know at the time that other people didn’t think in pictures.”

Sandra Eskin, the US Department of Agriculture’s deputy under secretary for food safety, attended the ceremony and added her perspective on Dr. Grandin’s enormous influence: “In a world where the treatment of animals is often overlooked or undervalued, Dr. Grandin stands as a beacon of compassion, empathy, and innovation.”

Media Contact Information

Margie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
(202) 446-2128, [email protected]

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere: in agriculture, in commerce, in our communities, in research, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.