Distinguished university professor, lifetime ARBA judge #386, lifetime ARBA member, esteemed ARBA Standards Committee member, ARBA King, influential lecturer and writer, revered Dutch breeder, and passionate mentor to thousands, we proudly dedicate the 96th ARBA Convention to Dr. Scott Williamson of Fresno, California.
Dr. Williamson, or “Doc” as he is affectionately known to many in the ARBA and academic communities, was raised in La Porte, Indiana. He’s the youngest of four children, he being the only son born to his parents. His father, Wilbur, a WWII veteran, served as the initiator of Doc’s rabbit passion. At just five years old, Doc remembers his dad bringing home a white New Zealand buck. This first rabbit earned the name “Pinky” as well as a boy’s sincere love, but sadly he died not long after. It was five years later at the county fair that Doc crossed paths again with rabbits. This time, it was none other than Dutch, the breed that would come to define his decades-long status as a masterful breeder. To combine the lesson of responsibility with his young son’s county fair curiosity, Wilbur told him he would have to pay for the rabbit himself if he wanted it. So, for $1.50, Doc purchased his first Dutch, a Tort doe. Later that same year, he purchased a Tort buck, and 1964 kicked off the start of Doc’s famous Dutch herd.
As a youth, Doc traveled to local Midwest shows, and became inspired by the gentle, fatherly hands of his mentors such as Ray Bradway, Tom and Bobby Burns. His first Reserve In Show came in 1969 with his Blue buck, “Blue Boy”, the start of innumerable wins to come. Traveling to rabbit shows served as bonding time for father and son. It wasn’t long before Doc purchased a Chocolate Dutch for his dad so they could work together on this beloved and shared interest. Together in 1970, they traveled to Mason City, Iowa for Doc’s first National Dutch Show. He went on to travel to ARBA Conventions, participate in youth contests, win the title of ARBA King, and, in 1978, earn his ARBA judge license.
Just before taking off to college, Doc and Wilbur had 50 cages of Dutch in their rabbit barn. Because rabbits were such a meaningful part of Doc’s life, Wilbur took care of the rabbits while Doc went to Purdue to pursue his undergraduate degree. After finishing his Bachelor of Science degree, Doc moved to the University of Illinois in Champagne, Illinois to earn his Master of Science in Ruminant Nutrition and then Doctorate in Meat Science. While pursuing his graduate degrees, he kept his rabbits in a Quonset hut on the campus farm. For most young rabbit breeders, rabbits take a break during college. For Doc, rabbits always remained close.
As a young man, Doc dreamed of being a veterinarian. However, it was his instinctive love for teaching which inspired him to pursue a career as a professor of Animal Science. After a connection to a famous Flemish Giant breeder and meat science professor at Fresno State University, Doc Jacobs, young Dr. Scott Williamson packed a moving truck with his belongings and 21 rabbits to accept a position at the California State University. Doc vividly recalls forgetting to close the backdoor on the moving truck after a gas stop during his last freeway miles to Fresno on that trip. He was quick to accredit the honking and waving of each passerby to the type of warm, welcoming people of his new hometown! Remarkably, no rabbit carriers were lost during those last miles, and so began the California chapters of Doc’s ARBA, professional, and personal life.
Doc started a family, and had four children, Kate, Kelli, Beau and Hannah. Rabbits were a family activity in California for Doc, and his children fondly recall the bonding time together while traveling to shows, just like young Scott and his dad, Wilbur. His son, Beau, made the ARBA and his dad proud as a “rabbit kid” who would be elected to national President of FFA in 2006.
Judging in 38 US States and countless ARBA Conventions and breed national shows, taking home four ARBA Convention Best of Breed wins (with 3 different breeds), serving as a venerated member of the ARBA Standards Committee, holding executive board positions in the American Dutch Rabbit Club, Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club, and American English Spot Rabbit Club, and serving as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Director of Cal State Rabbit and Cavy Association include just some of Doc’s influence on the ARBA and rabbit and cavy industry. Yet, his greatest impact is unquestionably how he has affected so many past and present industry leaders, ARBA judges, ARBA registrars, breeders, exhibitors, and of course, students. There has quite possibly never been nor will there be a man who has touched more people through teaching and mentoring over the course of a lifetime than Dr. Scott Williamson.
Doc loves to teach. He is excited about teaching so much so that he commands every subject which has ever powerfully boomed from his stimulating, paternal and energetic core. Countless ARBA youth have sought admission to Fresno State University as animal science majors because of Doc. He has managed the swine unit and taught swine production for over thirty years, but he is never shy to admit to his first and current passion. While some students are afraid to disclose their rabbit hobby in class, Doc will proudly include rabbits in his university lessons and even exams to make the “rabbit students” feel at home.
His dynamic enthusiasm makes learning a pleasure, whether you’re in his genetics course on the Fresno State campus or across the judging table as he articulates the placement and shape of a Holland Lop’s crown. Over twenty unique subjects alone between numerous ARBA Judge Conferences, the ARBA Judges Academy and every Rabbitcon prove Doc as an inventive educator who relates each attendee’s learning to real life applications in our hobby. Anyone who has been fortunate to be in his presence will admit to their willing surrender of Doc’s intuitive and philosophical doctrine. Even more impactful is Doc’s contagious ability to inspire others to make teaching their number one priority too. His wide effect on the teaching profession and ARBA mentorship is exponential.
Like the pioneers of our region’s past, Dr. Scott Williamson decided to “Go West” as a young man, and penetrate a region and industry with wisdom, inspiration, and affection. As a breeder, ARBA judge, leader, father, friend, and teacher, we are all forever grateful that he did. This ARBA Convention is for you, Doc. Thank you.