Dr. Steve Hull is an early-retired medical school professor, biomedical engineer, academic researcher and now – alpaca farmer. His return to raising livestock was fostered by a desire to calm his life down and to return to the small farm quieter lifestyle.
He is the manager and co-partner of TimberLake Farms, Inc., and serves on committees for the Alpaca Owner Breeders Association (AOBA). He is a well-known alpaca speaker and alpaca farm/forage/pasture consultant.
Steve grew up in New England on a small farm raising all kinds of animals and livestock. An early goal was to be a veterinarian and he graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Veterinary and Animal Sciences). However, his interests had switched to academic research and he started on the medical school professor/research pathway.
A degree in Bio-Medical Engineering (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) was next on the list with an emphasis on academic research surgery and neuroendocrine physiology. He applied and received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) doctoral fellowship and was accepted to study Physiology and Biophysics at Michigan State University. There, he studied neural control of the cardiovascular system (PhD). He then got additional postdoctoral fellowships (American Heart Assoc and NIH) and joined the medical school faculty at the University of Oklahoma. He received many grants, published extensively on neurocardiology and taught cardiac surgery to medical students, cardiology residents and veterinary students. He is one of the very few PhDs to be elected to the International Academy of Surgical Research and was an invited speaker at many universities.
One interesting connection from his research days is a current pharmacology link with alpacas. In the 1970's, Steve worked in the laboratory when the link between luteolysis and prostaglandin F2á was discovered and first published. Steve's very first publication was on prostaglandins from that laboratory. Today, many of us use “Estrumate” (cloprostenol) which is the commercial product that resulted from that work.
However, with all his degrees, Steve still feels that “4-H” was the most important!
In the mid 1990's, Steve contacted a veterinarian friend (Dr. Tom Cameron) he had worked with back at his laboratory at Michigan State about getting some sheep to graze on his acreage. Steve had a lot of experience with sheep and felt that they might be an inexpensive way to solve the pasture mowing problems.
Tom reminded Steve of sheep but also told him of alpacas and that he was caring for several herds in Wisconsin. TimberLake Farms, Inc. was soon founded on Steve's acreage with Tom and Steve being business partners along with their wives and children. So much for inexpensive grazing . . . . .
Meanwhile, Steve had accepted a position as director of Academic and Student Affairs for the entire University of Oklahoma Health Center campus with even more responsibilities. In 2002, he decided that his heart was at home with the alpacas and since then he has been the full time pooper-scooper for TimberLake Farms. He considers his only alpaca mistake was not quitting academia ten years earlier!
Steve has assisted with industry committees both for the Alpaca Registry, Inc (ARI) and for AOBA. In 2002, he was elected to the AOBA national board of directors (three year term). He was soon voted by the other AOBA directors to serve as the AOBA Corporate Secretary with liaison positions on the Education Committee and Publishing. He was re-elected in 2005 and continues to serve the board as Secretary with liaison roles to: Education, Publishing, the Alpaca Research Foundation (ARF) and to the Ohio State University's International Camelid Institute (ICI).
Steve and the farm are members of the Alpaca Registry, three regional AOBA affiliates The Suri Network, TxOLAN and Oklahoma A-OK and of course, AOBA.
Steve and Tom are also busy giving alpaca management seminars and Steve does extensive farm consulting and brokering. The farm philosophy is to always be learning, tell others your mistakes and try to do the job once. Seminars are a critical part of learning where humor, factual content, lessons learned and management choices are combined. (See our seminar page for details.)
Steve is married to Kathy Reilly MD., a family medicine physician, professor and head of graduate medical education at the University of Oklahoma, Department of Family Medicine. They have three children: Tom, David and Katy. In his free time, Steve contributes regularly to the internet based alpaca discussion forum – alpacasite.
To reach Steve use one of the quick links in the upper right corner.
So much for a calmer, quieter farm lifestyle . . . .!!
Cell 'phone: 405.550.3023