Washington State Magazine

Fall 2004

Fall 2004

In This Issue...


A Little Bronze—Strategically Placed :: Although it might be better known for wine and wheat, Walla Walla is also home to one of the most prominent fine-art foundries. For a short time this fall, 32 sculptures cast at the Walla Walla Foundry will reside at 13 locations across the Pullman campus.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: A little bronze—Strategically placed Photos by George Bedirian. }

Tracking Trucks :: One heavily-loaded eighteen-wheeler can cause the same highway damage as 7,000 cars. Ken Casavant and other transportation economists are trying to make sense of the effects of trucks on the state's highways.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Truck Drivin' Man Photos by Rajah Bose of the romance of trucking. }

No Hollow Promise :: Half of all new public-school teachers quit within five years, and the best and brightest are often the first to go. Worse, the attrition rate at high-needs schools is even greater. The CO-TEACH program at WSU decided to change this situation.

An Exquisite Scar :: The beauty of the channeled scablands comes from unimaginable catastrophe.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Images of Washington's Channeled Scabland Photos by Robert Hubner. }

Carlton Lewis—Still Building Bridges :: The early 1970s were tumultuous years on the WSU campus. As student body president, Carlton Lewis helped keep things from boiling over. Now he presides over Devcorp Consulting Corporation, a project management company with teeth.



:: SEASONS/SPORTS:Big little man Bill Tomaras


Cover: Edison Elementary teacher Jacqui Fisher '00 with students Dillon Skedd, Alejandrina Carreño, Jorge Herrera, Kylee Martinez. Photograph by Laurence Chen.

Esther Johnson McDonald lives on a ranch that has been in the family since 1865.

Esther Johnson McDonald lives on a ranch that has been in the family since 1865.

McDonald at home on the range

by | © Washington State University

At 77, Esther Johnson McDonald is still active in the day-to-day operation of the 9,000-acre Triangle Ranch in Philipsburg, Montana, with her husband of 51 years, John W. "Pat" McDonald. The two met at a bull sale in Missoula. Her mother operated a ranch in Darby, so Esther had an idea what she was getting into. She also had the foresight to earn a degree in animal sciences in 1948.

In years past, she cooked for ranch hands, while raising three sons and five daughters. The ranch is 75 miles southeast of Missoula in a mile-high mountain valley. "Some of the best feeder cattle come out of the Flint Creek Valley," she says. "It's a gorgeous place. You don't need to go anywhere else."

The Triangle Ranch has been in the family since 1865. "We're proud of our heritage, and being able to keep the ranch all this time," she says. Despite an erratic cattle market, the family never has come close to losing the ranch. "We just tightened our belts and learned to live within our means."

All eight children are college graduates. One lives in Boise. The others live in the immediate area.

The 2004 outstanding alumna in the Department of Animal Sciences attributes any success she's had to what she learned at Washington State University. Her mentor was M.E. "Gene" Ensminger, chair of animal sciences (1942-62), who wanted students in his Animal Husbandry 101 class to be well rounded.

She is past president of the Montana Cattle Women, Inc., and presently serves as the organization's legislative chair. She's active in the county and state Republican Party. She also spent a quarter century as a 4-H leader.

McDonald was one of six female students to enroll in animal sciences in 1944 and graduate together four years later. "The guys in our department treated us as equals," she says.

Everett Martin, longtime WSU animal sciences professor, praises McDonald as a role model for women seeking careers in animal agriculture. "She's accomplished her goals in a field of study once considered by many not fit for a woman." He reports that 36 of the 42 graduates in the animal sciences department for 2003-04 were women. She came to WSU because of her interest in agriculture, specifically animal nutrition. She arrived in Pullman in 1944 aboard a B-17 "Flying Fortress" with test pilot "Slim" Lewis at the controls. His boss was Esther's father, Philip Johnson, late CEO of Boeing, who passed away shortly before she enrolled.

Categories: Agriculture, Alumni | Tags: Cattle, Ranching

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