In Grandpa's footsteps

Career & Education

In Grandpa's footsteps

Dwayne Wellington inspired by renowned animal geneticist to pursue career in agriculture

Sunday, October 27, 2019

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Upon returning to Jamaica after completing a BSc specialising in e ngineering e conomics at People's Friendship University of Russia last year August, Dwayne Wellington struggled to find a job in corporate Jamaica.

He did not despair, deciding instead to embark on a journey to continue the legacy of his grandfather, renowned animal geneticist Dr Karl Wellington.

Dr Wellington is the distinguished animal geneticist and livestock development researcher largely responsible for the development, maintenance and conservation of Jamaica's four cattle breeds — the Jamaica Red Poll, Jamaica Black Poll, Jamaica Brahman, and Jamaica Hope.

He is enlisted in the Order of Distinction and the Order of Jamaica

“The task at hand to continue my grandfather's legacy is by no means a small feat,” Dwayne tells the Jamaica Observer. “The natural passion which I have developed over the years towards being involved and supportive is a clear indication of my undaunted dedication to upholding that legacy.”

He continued, “I would rather have my actions speak, because change is inevitable and I am confident in my abilities to promote positive and effective change and build on the values which I have already come to appreciate.”

As a child, Dwayne received first class introduction to cattle rearing and genetics development. It was that experience that spurred his interest in agriculture, and served as the foundation for profound admiration, love and respect of his grandfather.

“My grandfather has been a major influence towards my involvement in agriculture. Although most of my family is agriculture-oriented, from a tender age I was fascinated by him, the outdoors and the animals — especially the cows and horses, as they were so much bigger than I was. Before I was old enough to comprehend the significance of his contribution to the agricultural industry I was consumed by an attraction to the farm, as I could tell it was also his favourite place. I wanted to do the things grandpa did, as I mimicked his actions. He inspired me beyond the realm of agriculture into that of personhood. He is also my role model and it was only natural I loved what he loved,” Dwayne confided.

No surprise then that attending and participating in agricultural shows became a ritual for the two.

“During my teenage years certain agricultural shows became a ritual of attendance and participation. Some of my fondest memories attending shows with my grandfather include watching him judge the animals in the various competitions and observing how influential his evaluation and judgment were considered amongst the panel. Probably the fondest of all was when he gave me pocket money to buy lunch and enjoy the showgrounds. There would also be times when significant figures such as the prime minister would visit the animals being displayed and my grandfather being such a prompt and organised individual, he never failed to present himself personally to guide them and disclose the details of his animals, regardless of the big signs and personnel available,” young Wellington disclosed.

Dwayne grew up in Mandeville. He attended Munro College in the neighbouring parish of St Elizabeth and completed Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams before receiving a scholarship from West Indies Alumina Company to study in Russia.

The 27-year-old currently cares for nearly 100 cows at his grandfather's cattle farm, which is situated on several acres of lands in YS, St Elizabeth. He understands the importance of the development of genetics to the industry and has plans to pursue studies in veterinary science.

“I view agriculture as one of the most fulfilling fields that anyone can aspire to become involved in. There are many commendable and brilliant professions, but none as fundamental to our survival as agriculture. The sense of satisfaction and self-awareness that one can attain from watching his labour bear fruit and seeing his animals transform and multiply is a deeply humbling and enriching experience. It is unfortunate that many no longer view this way of life as successful, due to the pressures of a materialised society, but agriculture will forever hold its unmatched significance and I encourage the youth to become innovators and inventors within the field as we move into the future,” he told Career & Education in an interview last week.

“The journey of genetics in Jamaica throughout the years has been a distinguished and impactful one. Dating back to the time of Dr TP Lecky, a symbolic individual whose extensive research helped spearhead the generation of the first breed of cattle indigenous to Jamaica, ie the Jamaica Hope. Further research continued by others, including my grandfather, resulted in breeds such as the Jamaica Red, Jamaica Brahman and Jamaica Black. Though breeds may have developed over time through natural selection (and this is not a fact), genetic improvement has allowed for drastic improvement of quality and quantity yields in a fraction of the time,” he continued.

Wellington explained that genetics has helped to establish and set the standards for the industry of cattle breeding in Jamaica, which is celebrated around the world.

“With nearly a century of genetic improvement practices, we have moved from acclimatisation and animal conditioning to producing superb genotypes and bloodlines. Needless to say, genetics has played a vital role in the development of the beef and dairy industry and is responsible for the many successes achieved to date,” he said.

Dwayne is a Nutramix Youth in Agriculture ambassador. He shared the plans he has to make a significant contribution to the agricultural sector.

“I am an individual who loves to inspire and help others reach their potential and as such I would love to make a positive contribution to the agricultural sector by becoming an impactful and helpful role model to as many people as possible who aspire to pursue a journey in agriculture, whether it be leading by example or helping others to become leaders. As I relish the invaluable teachings and examples I have received, I firmly believe we must impart our knowledge and wisdom from each man to the next to create a better Jamaica. Our country is such a vast and rich land, and we ought to promote, educate and subsidise the agricultural sector so that it may once again become an attractive and profitable opportunity to those willing to embark on the journey,” the younger Wellington said.

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