Sitting behind a cluttered desk in a small office sipping coffee from a Mizzou mug, David “Chip” Kemp is busy answering emails in a flash while his computer and phone seem to buzz and click endlessly. When Kemp is not in his office, he can be found team-teaching college courses, coaching a livestock evaluation team, or mentoring a student about life or school.
According to former student, Katie Maupin, Kemp’s caring attitude comes through all the time. Even when talking about everyday things, Maupin said Kemp would sneak in an inspirational line or two. In fact, it is common knowledge among the CAFNR family that Kemp is a passionate person who cares about everyone he meets.
Maupin, the director of marketing and communications for the National Swine Registry, said Kemp has been the most influential person in her life, right after her parents.
“I’ve rarely seen Chip without a smile, and I’ve never seen him without a kind word,” Maupin said. “Even after the worst days on the floor, he would have something positive to say about our performance. Perhaps, what has always impressed me the most about Chip is his ability to read people … There were times in my college career when I thought Chip knew me better than I knew myself. His genuine interest in everyone he meets surely separates him from the pack.”
According to Kemp’s daughter, Bailey, he has a deep passion for pushing kids to excel. His drive is to see students learn and succeed. Kemp has been teaching at the University of Missouri for 13 years. He has taught a variety of classes such as Monogastric Production, Animal Science, and Livestock Evaluation, along with the animal sciences internship class. Kemp has also connected with students by coaching the Mizzou Livestock Evaluation Team.
While Kemp has had his fair share of memorable teaching moments while at Mizzou, he said there is not a specific one that could be defined as his favorite.
“I can tell you the thing that keeps me doing it [teaching], is I love seeing high ability kids who are willing to bust their ass,” Kemp said. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite teaching moment, but my favorite moments would have to be when we [the judging team] were out and it was two below. We were judging a class and there was this girl who was a pretty marginal livestock judger, but she was willing to stick it out and bust her butt in the process. … So for me, it’s not a single moment but a process to watch kids develop into someone they are proud to be.”
Kemp grew up in Owensville, Missouri, on a small commercial beef operation. But as soon as he was old enough, he started working on a family friend’s farm caring for cattle and tending to row crops. Kemp was a member of the Wholum 4-H Club, with various projects ranging from beef cattle to livestock evaluation. He was an active member of the Owensville FFA Chapter, earning several awards. He attended junior college to judge livestock and then came to MU.
As a 1995 graduate with a degree in animal sciences, he left Missouri and worked for Iowa Beef Processors, otherwise known as Tyson Fresh Meats. It was not long, though, before Kemp returned to his home state to earn his master’s in quantitative beef genetics. He then began teaching and coaching at Mizzou.
Bailey Kemp said that to be as involved as her dad is, a person has to have an incredible work ethic. From pre-dawn feeding of show pigs to late night workouts with the judging team, Kemp seems to never stop.
“I’m not sure if he really stops working,” Bailey said. “Between projects he’s involved in, university work, and his other business ventures, he works hard to do everything that he can for those who count on him. I’m sure it helps that he enjoys what he does, but he isn’t one to complain about what he has to do.”
Bailey said her dad “finds joy in all of his activities and can seldom be found without a smile on his face.”
“If what I’m doing is not fun, I’ll usually just stop and go do something different,” Kemp said. “Life is meant to be enjoyed, I’m blessed I get to do a job where, most days, it is pretty fun.”