Richard Shepardson II

Richard Shepardson II

I would like to give thanks to the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board of directors, and the state committees. As a student, it means a lot to have such generous support from industry and academia. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to have been considered for such a competitive award. This scholarship is extremely generous and will go a long way as I continue to pursue a career in animal science.

Hometown: Farmington, NH

School: Pennsylvania State University

Major / Species: Animal Science

Career Goals: Agriculture has always been an important part of my life and has played a major role in the development of my character. I grew up on a small farm in New Hampshire where my family raised assorted animals for meat and eggs. Many of my core values are a direct result of my time spent involved in agriculture, especially the opportunity to work with animals. I am very passionate about doing farm-related work and surrounding myself with people in the agricultural community. Originally I had sought to pursue a medical career and enrolled at the University of New Hampshire as a biochemistry student, but immediately fell in love with the animal science after taking a dairy nutrition course my junior year. Shortly afterwards I declared a minor in Dairy Management and even got a job milking cows at the research barn on campus. My senior year I developed and carried out an independent research study on dairy calf nutrition that allowed me to bridge my studies in biochemistry and my passion for working with animals. Although challenging, I was excited about conducting research and realized I wanted to pursue a graduate education in dairy nutrition. As part of the university’s dairy program, I was able to enroll in two semesters of Advanced Dairy Management classes, which included trips onto farms to work directly with producers. Helping farmers identify positive aspects of their operations, as well as opportunities for growth, gave me insight into dairy economics and on-farm application of research and extension resources. This experience further solidified my passion for working directly with farmers and the animals that they care for, helping them to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. My ultimate career goal would be to work in an agricultural extension – type position that will allow me to continue to travel to farms and directly interact with producers. The education I am receiving at Penn State in dairy nutrition and management will prepare me to identify specific issues on farms, while my degree in biochemistry gives me further insight into why problems are occurring (whether that be in lactation, nutrition, or microbiology). Growing up on a farm also allows me to relate more with farmers and the struggles they often face. Being outside and involved in agriculture are two of my biggest passions and extension or outreach programs are definitely well suited for this type of lifestyle. In order to actively pursue my goals, I have enrolled in the Animal Science graduate program at Penn State with Dr. Kevin Harvatine. My research focuses on different fatty acid supplements and their effect on digestibility and milk production, which is exciting because it has a broad application for many farmers. Advancing my education has strengthened critical thinking skills, and will be extremely important as I work to translate research into novel opportunities for farmers. My education at Penn State will allow me to work towards helping farmers improve nutrition, production, and overall herd health.