I could not be happier being selected for this exceptional award. I am very honored to be a Targeting Excellence Scholar. This is a confirmation that I am going in the right direction to be an Animal Welfare Scientist, and be a bridge between the turkey industry and consumers. Thank you!
I am passionate about animal welfare, even though it can be difficult. In fact, I ran out of the turkey house at the first time I faced 20,000 mean, 40 pound birds; but I went back and got the data collection done, and this event could not discourage me from this passion.
I have been around poultry and other farm animals throughout my life. We raised thousands of turkeys and geese on our farm annually, where I also worked since my childhood. I enjoyed spending the summers on the pasture while our geese were grazing. In the spring breaks, I collected eggs of goose breeders. I pictured my future related to the agriculture and farms that is why I pursued an MS degree in Agribusiness and became the first person with a degree in the family. After graduation, I worked five years on a goose breeder farm as the Assistant Farm Manager. I worked on the daily operation of the farm, developed feed formulas for our flocks, marketed items, including goose eggs, goslings, oat fed geese, and whole frozen bodies.
Caring for and working with poultry, and other farm animals, such as cattle, sheep, and swine has always been natural for me, but I have realized that not everyone has this background. Generations of people have gotten away from the hands-on experience with farm animals, but are curious, expressing strong animal welfare concerns and wanting to know more about how the animals live on farms. My career goal is to connect consumers and the poultry industry via science, providing research-based information which will enhance turkey welfare on farms and thus lessen societal concerns. I feel that with achieving these career goals, I can set up an example for my daughters that the diligent work, such as to get a degree and work with the food animals are fruitful, and assure them as well as consumers that farm animals have a life worth living.
Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Animal Science of the University of Minnesota, and I research turkey foot pad dermatitis, which is important animal welfare indicator, economical and a potential food safety concern in the poultry industry. I am very fortunate to study in Minnesota and improve the turkey industry here since Minnesota is one of the leading turkey producers in the US. I maintain a 3.78 cumulative GPA and have delivered oral presentations at numerous conferences (North Central Avian Disease Conference, MN 2017-2018; Poultry Science Conference, FL 2017).
This outstanding award would allow me to continue my dreams: support my Ph.D. path and became an Animal scientist, generate articles on foot pad dermatitis, and participate in prestigious conferences (such as the Poultry Science Association). The articles I am writing will promote management changes in turkey houses to enhance turkey welfare by decreasing the incidence and severity of foot pad lesions. In addition, visiting your event would allow me to meet professionals working in food animal agriculture, and possibly finding mentors, which would enrich my career.