Thank you so much for this generous scholarship. Your support means so much not only in terms of finances but also as encouragement. It is so heartening to see the faith from industry for young people. Thank you for helping me and the other winners work toward our degrees and future careers. We are truly blessed by your support.
Hometown: Pipestone, MN
School: University of Minnesota
Major / Species: Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine
Career Goals: I first became interested in a career in veterinary medicine through my exposure to agriculture throughout my childhood. This general exposure and interest increased as I joined 4-H and FFA. It was then expanded through my time working for Pipestone System, Minnesota Pork, both as an ambassador and an intern, and Christensen Farms. Additionally, I enjoyed my animal science classes as an undergraduate and further understanding the science of raising healthy animals and producing safe food through my veterinary classes. As a veterinarian, I believe the best impacts I can have are two-fold. First, I can help my producers be profitable in adding value to their business through health and other services. Second, I can use my voice as a vet to be an advocate for the pork industry, and by extension all of agriculture. First, I hope to first improve on-farm health directly by working with producers. Eventually, I would love to change this more hands-on role to a broader outlook, engaging in a system-level approach to health, business and animal well-being. As a nursing assistant in high school, I realized that the best nurses first worked as assistants. I believe this also holds true for management positions in the veterinary world. The best CEOs, researchers and organization heads, first worked in barns with producers. Additionally, I have truly enjoyed shadowing Dr. Adam Schelkopf of Pipestone System. His passion and expertise are a great model around which to build my career. The fast-paced, systematic nature of veterinary work also appeals to my natural disposition. Dr. Schelkopf’s schedule was efficient and task-oriented, traits that fit well with my personality. While this may be my first goal as a veterinarian, I believe I can additionally contribute by leveraging my veterinary degree in other parts of life. Working for the Minnesota Pork Board, at the Sioux Empire Fair’s Discovery Barn and interacting with my classmates as an undergraduate and now graduate student have taught me the importance of consumer education and outreach. Because of the controversial nature of many swine health, housing and welfare issues, our industry needs well-educated, outspoken proponents of our best management practices. Similar to how the best managers need a background in barn experience, the best communicators pull from their own lives to help connect with consumers. This communication is needed in all aspects of agriculture. If we, as food animal industries, are not vocal about our animal practices, other, less educated people, will be. Consumer beliefs shape everything about our industries. How people feel about antibiotics, housing, welfare, taxes and markets influence producers, veterinarians and legislators. Policy makers take their cues from consumers, consumers whose beliefs are swayed by industry representatives like myself. I believe being a veterinarian will give my words the weight they need to impact consumer opinion and therefore legislative policy. Being active in organizations like Minnesota Pork, the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council is a vital part of how I can contribute to agriculture.