Leigh Ruckman

Leigh Ruckman

2018 Graduate Award (Iowa)

Thank you to the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board of directors, and state committees for the continued support of students in animal agriculture. It is an honor to have been selected as a recipient for a 2018 Targeting Excellence scholarship. I am grateful to be a part of an industry that invests in students and gives us opportunities to learn, network, and develop as professionals. Your support is greatly appreciated!


Ames, IA


Iowa State University


Animal Science

Career Goals:

My mission for my future career is to influence animal agriculture through the development of swine nutrition and production. It is the responsibility of the food animal industry to provide safe food for consumers in a sustainable manner. The development of young scientists and professionals in the animal agriculture industry is crucial in helping to reach this goal, and so I am applying for this scholarship to continue my education in this area. I believe that my background in animal production, current research experiences, and future career plans in the agriculture industry make me a strong contender for this award.

My passion for animal agriculture began during my undergraduate career at the University of Missouri. Up until I began college, I did not have much exposure to food animal production and the industry surrounding it. As I began to realize the important impact that animal agriculture had on communities and the world, I sought to gain experiences and involvement in this area. After exposure to pigs while working in a swine biomedical lab, I wanted to experience swine production firsthand and completed a sow farm internship with a large production company. This experience, coupled with my interest in animal nutrition, led me to pursue a master’s degree at Iowa State University in applied swine nutrition.

As a graduate student in the swine industry, my interest in sustainable animal agriculture has grown and impacted my future career goals. My research focuses on reducing the use of antibiotic growth promoters in swine diets by developing antibiotic alternatives. Research in this area has an impact on swine health and growth while also increasing the sustainability of pork production. Furthermore, my exposure to the industry has made it so much more apparent how global food animal production has become. The solution to providing a safe food source to the world’s population will not come from individual countries, and so the collaboration between universities and companies is an important part of growing the animal agriculture industry. Therefore, my future career goals are to bridge my knowledge of swine nutrition and production with improvements in sustainability and international agriculture.

Once I have received my master’s degree, I plan to further my education in swine nutrition by continuing on to a Ph.D. program. I would like to continue working on the applied side of nutrition research, either with growing pigs or sows. In the future, I would like to work for a feed company or production company that shares the mission of improving and expanding pork production through advancements in sustainability and development of the industry internationally.