Temple Grandin

Ashoka Fellow
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
Fellow Since 2011

Citation

This profile was prepared when Temple Grandin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Temple has changed the way livestock are handled and slaughtered across the world so that the process is as humane as possible and animals go to their deaths calmly and without fear. Since the mid 1990s she has designed handling systems that reduce animal suffering as well as improve workplace safety and even meat quality. Temple has also developed a slaughterhouse auditing system that was adopted by the American Meat Institute and that identifies critical control points for humane treatment. Her work has touched every segment of beef production, from the farm to the feedlot to the processing facility. Today, more than half of the cattle handled in the U.S. and Canada are handled in facilities designed by Temple, and her designs are being adopted across the world, from Brazil to Tanzania. Temple works with industry leaders such as Cargill and McDonald’s to tie the purchasing of meat to her standards, and to push for broad adoption.

With guidance and mentoring from her mother, Temple (who did not speak until she was nearly four-years-old) learned to use her vivid visual thinking to fuel her work as a problem-solver. She observed that animals are often afraid of visual details such as shiny reflections that most people do not notice. Autism undoubtedly shaped many of her innovations that use behavioral principles rather than excess force to control animals. Her success comes in part from calling attention to suffering in the world of creatures, but also from translating her insights and empathy for animals into simple, actionable steps through which a massive industry can help reduce that suffering.

Today, Temple continues her work with livestock, and is also advancing a new phase of work to contextualize the ways that different minds contribute in teams and encourage a more flexible educational approach that values different ways of thinking and acting and practical, hands-on problem solving from an early age. Some people are photo-realistic visual thinkers, and others are mathematical or word thinkers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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