Gordon Claasen homesteaded on the central coast of California and grew up on the family ranch near Paso Robles. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a Veterinary Specialist, after completing his B.S. at Cal Poly SLO. At Cal Poly he worked for the CP Animal Science Dept. in their beef operations and was student manager of the CP feedlot. This diverse background gave him the foundation to manage 8 different ranch operations in California over his career.
For the past 14 years, he served as the Livestock Manager of Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch in the Davenport area of coastal California. A significant part of his role was instructing students in Swanton’s Stocker Enterprise as well as its cow/calf operation and grass-fed beef program. His greatest pleasure was helping students and others to develop knowledge of land and livestock in keeping with holistic management principles (learning to make complex, informed decisions consistent with the environment under their care).
Early in his career, he began to see a noticeable inadequacy in ordinary management practices, and the level of productivity seemed to stall out. Attending a Holistic Resource Management in-practice course taught by Allan Savory re-directed his thinking about land and livestock management and altered the course of his career. Instead of relying on informed assumptions or conventional practices, he learned how to watch what was happening on the land, monitoring for changes, and adjusting as needed. From this, he developed a new humility and has become a better practitioner and student of the land.