New AGcelerate program provides CANR freshmen with support

April 10, 2014 under CANR News

UD's new AGcelerate program sets students on the path to successLast fall, University of Delaware faculty members Erin Brannick and Tanya Gressley welcomed the inaugural 30-member class to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) AGcelerate Program.

Funded through the President’s Diversity Initiative, the AGcelerate program is designed to foster a sense of community, to prepare students for academic success by giving them peer and faculty mentors, and to help them make important contacts in the real world to secure internships and promote career development.

“We just opened it up to freshmen this year and we have about 30 freshmen enrolled. We paired them all with peer mentors, so we have 22 peer mentors that are a part of it, also,” said Gressley, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Brannick, assistant professor in the department, added that the program is “tailored for individual support. We have students that may want to be a part of this program for the tutoring that’s offered here on South Campus.”

Brannick added that group tutoring sessions are held once a week on Tuesdays, from 5-7 p.m. in 049 Townsend Hall.

In addition to tutoring, the students also get mentoring from peers and can request a faculty mentor, in addition to their regular faculty member adviser.

Brannick explained that the peer mentoring is more focused on having the freshmen learn the ropes of the University, while the faculty mentors help give the students career attention and career planning advice.

The program also brings resources directly to the students. For instance, Joyce Henderson, assistant director at the University’s Career Services Center, spoke to program members about opportunities available to them.

“We do a weekly discussion thread through our campus site that usually relates to either campus resources or to how students learn and study, giving tips and advice about any detailed support that they can share with each other,” said Brannick. She added that the group also has weekly prize giveaways, such as gift cards to bookstores or restaurants on Main Street, to encourage the students to contribute to the discussions.

In addition, Brannick said many of the students enjoy the fact that the group is close-knit. “The students have indicated that another major factor for them is just the friendships and that idea of camaraderie in the group and feeling like they have other people to go to when they need help, or knowing who to approach when they’re looking for assistance beyond what they can find on their own,” said Brannick.

The group also participates in off-campus excursions, such as going to Milburn Orchards in the fall, and in service learning activities, such as planting beach grass at the Delaware shore.

Gressley said the hope is that students who are taking the program as freshmen will come back and serve as peer mentors for the next group as they continue their college careers.

There are also funds allocated to “support travel to conferences and internships and in the future we hope to kind of team up a little bit to help get them internships in their fields,” said Gressley. “This year is predominantly about academic success but then as they mature, we want to get them to hit the ground running. Once they’re running, we’ll focus more on leadership skills and career building.”

Brannick added that the program is designed to “support students as they develop so it’s everything from hitting the ground running and finding everything that you need around campus to being successful and to wanting to stay at UD and at our college. And there is that next phase about how to develop themselves while they’re here to become leaders.”

The AGcelerate program is teaming up with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to host two booths at Ag Day on April 26 and they will host a MANRRS reunion panel on May 2 in the Townsend Hall commons from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with a panel discussion from 11 a.m.-noon and lunch from noon-1 p.m.

AGcelerate has open enrollment and is open to CANR students in all fields of study.

Those interested in applying for the AGcelerate program should email the group at AGcelerate@udel.edu.

Article by Adam Thomas

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UD group visits New Zealand to learn about differences in agriculture

April 1, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Students study in New Zealand learning about pasture growth through cooperative extension and classroom learningA study abroad program in New Zealand during Winter Session brought together undergraduate learning and Cooperative Extension experience, two major aspects emphasized by the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

This unique study abroad program blended classroom, experiential and extension education to deliver a unique discovery learning experience focused on New Zealand agriculture.

The five-week trip was led by Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and Susan Garey, animal science extension agent, who explained that the students divided their time between classroom learning and field experience as they traveled to farms and dairies to learn about the differences in farming and agriculture practices between the United States and New Zealand.

Garey said that she liked how the trip tied together the extension and undergraduate aspects of education. “We have the formal lecture in the classroom but getting out to the farm and looking at the blades of grass and seeing how pastures yields are measured and how you determine where to move the cows next in the grazing system, I just think really drives the point home to students.”

The students learned so much about New Zealand dairy and agriculture that two who went on the trip were able to present at Middletown High School at the annual meeting of the Delaware Holstein Association. The students talked about New Zealand agriculture and more specifically, about the dairy industry, such as typical farm size, how milk is marketed and the main products of the industry.

Pasture growth

Griffiths explained that the UD students learned a lot about pasture growth on their trip, both inside and outside of the classroom. Because the animals consume the grass available to them from pasture on farms in New Zealand, rather than being fed grain or harvested feeds, as is the case in America, understanding pasture growth is vital for that nation’s farmers.

The students stayed at Lincoln University in New Zealand, where they visited a 600-cow demonstration farm built to serve as a model for dairy farmers in the region.

Griffiths said the demonstration farm “serves more of an extension role — a place to try new pasture species, closely monitor pasture growth and animal performance, determine environmental impacts and share information with dairy farmers.”

Students learned from the farm manager about the concept of a pasture feed wedge, a graph of the current pasture status by ranking each paddock’s average pasture cover, she said.

“While the graph made it easy to see how much grass is out there for cows to consume, it was not so easy for students to visualize how the farmer gets his/her data on pasture grass production,” said Griffiths. To help farmers and students understand this, the farm staff would walk the pastures every Tuesday.

We showed up at the dairy and walked and measured weekly growth in each of the 21 paddocks. We stopped along the way and learned to evaluate the grass itself,” said Griffiths.

Jenna Wilson, a sophomore majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences, said it was clear that the farmers cared dearly about their grass. “They really want the grass to produce well so that the animals produce well. They talked about when they cut it and when they grow it, where they grow it, and how they divide up the pasture.”

Garey added that the need for animals to feed themselves through pasture originated out of necessity because the farmers “don’t have the soil types to grow as much grain as we do here.”

Dairy differences

One of the biggest differences the group learned about was in the management of dairy farms. “New Zealand exports a lot of milk but one of the big cultural differences is New Zealanders are not large consumers of fluid milk,” said Garey, who explained that a majority of that nation’s dairy production is exported in milk powders that are headed to Asia, as well as in baby formula and in products such as cheese and butter.

Garey added that while dairies in America tend to milk their cows 305 out of 365 days of the year, the New Zealand dairies milk their cows around 223 days a year.

Wilson explained that a big difference between the two countries is that New Zealand farms tend to be more hands off and have fewer buildings for the animals.

“They don’t really interact as much with the animals as we do — except for dairying, obviously, because they have to bring them in twice a day. But a lot of the time, they just put the animals out in the pasture and leave them there until they need to shear them or breed them,” said Wilson.

Deer farms

Another difference between the two nations is that in New Zealand there are deer farms.

“At the deer farm that we went to, the farmer was raising them for the velvet. Antlers in the velveting stage get shipped to Asia for medicinal purposes. When they get older they use the deer for meat,” said Wilson, who added that these farms are easy to spot because they have very high fences to prevent the animals from jumping out.

Garey added that the deer on those farms are red deer, which differ from the white tailed deer found in Delaware.

Garey said the deer farms are what she calls a sign of “Kiwi ingenuity,” explaining that because deer — along with other animals — were brought to New Zealand from England, they had no known natural predators and their population exploded. Some New Zealanders decided to trap the animals and farm them in order to harvest either their velvet or their meat, usually focusing on one or the other.

“They do well in the harsher country so it’s a way to use the variability of land,” said Garey. “The south island of New Zealand is very diverse from the flat plains to high country and hill country. The high country environment is much harsher and that would not be good land, necessarily, for milking dairy cattle, but deer can do well in those environments.”

Because of the variability of the land, the farms also have multiple uses, sometimes housing sheep, deer and cattle, instead of focusing on one species.

Article by Adam Thomas

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UD professor competes in Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Race

March 31, 2014 under CANR News

Professor Eric Benson competes in the Can-Am Crown Sled Dog RaceWhen the University of Delaware’s Eric Benson entered the 22nd annual Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Race in Maine, the only thing that he did not want to see at the end of the run was the Red Lantern, which is given to the slowest team.

Luckily for Benson, he had put in enough training and his dogs ran fast enough to avoid receiving that “prize.”

Benson, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and his six-dog team finished in 20th out of 26 teams, running the 30-mile race in 4 hours and 19 minutes.

Benson said that he was happy with the result, especially because he and his dogs do not race a lot.

Benson co-owns Maryland Sled Dog Adventures LLC with his wife, Catherine. Maryland Sled Dog Adventures focuses on teaching people about dog sledding and most of the events are on weekends, which also is when the races are usually held.

Maryland Sled Dog Adventures works many Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, teaching the children about dog sledding. While the opportunity provides the young people hands-on experiences and gives the dogs training, these runs are generally for short distances, not the long 30-mile slogs through the snow that CAN-AM race entailed.

“Our normal business has us doing a lot of short distance, stop, short distance, stop, which is kind of the exact opposite of what we want,” said Benson. “On a given day when we’re running things for Girl Scouts, we might total six or seven miles, when we needed to get up to 30 miles and have the dogs run continuously.”

To supplement the training, Benson said they “did a couple of trips this winter where we went up to Maine and we would run 18-20 mile stretches.”

The week before the race, the team trained in Edmonton, Canada, and did 16-30 mile runs every other day in order to train under similar geography and temperature conditions that they would encounter during the race.

All of the dogs on the team – made up of four dogs owned by Benson and his wife and two dogs owned by friends — are Siberian Huskies, while a lot of the other dogs in the race were Alaskan Huskies.

Benson said that this put his team at a disadvantage because while Siberian Huskies are a registered, pure breed, Alaskan Huskies can be bred with faster types of dogs. “What that lets people do is mix in German short haired pointer, German shepherd, whatever they want — even greyhound — to get the speed that they need. So in any race when they’re in the same field, they will be faster,” said Benson.

The dogs that raced in the Cam-Am were Benson’s dogs Acadia, Sammamish, Beaver and Vale, and his friends’ dogs, Lumos and Yoda.

The dogs trained with Benson throughout the winter, both locally and on trips to Maine. This winter was especially good for training locally because of the numerous storms.

“We did some training here with snow,” Benson said. “We normally assume that we will do all of our training in this area with the wheeled carts, but this year, I think we had seven or eight times we were able to get out and sled. Previous years, we’ve had zero.”

sleddogsbAs for his role on the team, Benson said that for this particular course, the first eight miles were on an old railroad track that was converted to a trail and so from the beginning he had to slow the team down by pumping the brakes in order to save their strength.

After the flat beginning, the team moved into hills and Benson said he started what is known as pedaling, pushing the sled with one foot while the other stays on the sled’s runner. “You give a stride to help the dogs along. The other thing you do is sometimes you carry a ski pole and as you’re running along, you’ll use the ski pole to help add a little bit of energy to the team,” said Benson.

Towards the end of the race, at about mile 22, the elevation started to rise. “From mile 22-28, it was a tough run. A lot of helping the team, a lot of running up the hills, a lot of pedaling, a lot of poling,” said Benson.

As for how he got involved in the sport, Benson said it started when his dog Zoe, who has long since retired, wouldn’t tire out on normal walks around the block. They got into it with a very simple cart and two dogs — the other was named T-Bone — and then started adding dogs and equipment to get to where they are today.

Benson said that it is a little tricky to balance such an intensive hobby with his job as a professor, but that sometimes the two worlds collide nicely. “I did bring some of the sled dogs in last fall for my emergency animal management class when we were talking about working dogs, and that was actually a neat tie-in,” said Benson.

“Working dogs, including sled dogs, are managed very differently from companion animal dogs and having had the sled dogs, I really understand a bit more about that,” he said. “We’re kind of in a transition zone because our dogs are still pets, which is not traditional working dog mentality, but we’ve transitioned more toward a traditional working dog structure and so that definitely fit well for discussions in the emergency animal management class.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Catherine and Eric Benson

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UD students look at possible contamination of irrigation water

November 21, 2013 under CANR News

students look for contaminants in irrigation waterStudents in the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) are using a plot of land on the campus farm to help study possible contaminants in soil and irrigation water used to grow leafy greens and tomatoes in order to help inform new regulations on growers that will be going into effect next year as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The study is part of a $9 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant titled “Developing Consensus Produce Safety Metrics for Leafy Greens and Tomatoes.” The project is led by the University of Maryland and is taking place at seven different universities and industry liaisons across the country.

Signed into law in 2011 by President Barack Obama, the food safety act has been implemented in stages over the past two years.

Kali Kniel, associate professor of animal and food sciences, explained that part of the law includes regulations for growers of fruits and vegetables, noting that this is the first time there have ever been specific regulations for growing fruits and vegetables.

“There have been guidelines and marketing agreements before but not regulations in terms of environmental aspects that are difficult to control,” Kniel said, “so growers are anxious and nervous about this.”

The rules are not yet finalized and include some fairly complicated aspects in terms of metrics, use of irrigation water and soil amendments. Delaware extension agents have been working with growers over the past two years to make the transition more manageable.

To help inform these regulations, researchers from the seven universities will meet with representatives of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report on their findings.

UD research team

At UD, the research team used a plot of land next to the Allen Laboratory and has been growing tomatoes, romaine lettuce and spinach on the plot for the past two years.

Angela Ferelli, a senior double majoring in biochemistry and food science, worked on the project during the first summer and said that it was interesting to get hands-on experience outside of the lab.

Because it was her first time working in a garden and growing plants for a project, she said that it was a “labor of love. We really wanted to tackle it head on and we didn’t know what the best way was to keep the weeds out and keep the plants growing and happy. And if you looked down the rows the first time we planted, we had four rows — they started out straight and then they went crooked, but you could definitely tell that we were doing it, and it was great.”

Ferelli said that the next year, the group tested a new variable plasticulture for tomatoes, putting down plastic tarps to keep the weeds out. This is also a means of potential control for splash from rainfall for growing produce and for the protection from plant contact with soil.

Patrick Spanninger, a doctoral student in Kniel’s lab who has been working on the project since the beginning, explained that after the students grew the plants, they ran trials by pouring water mixed with manure that contained different levels of E. coli on the plants to monitor bacterial persistence on the fruit. “We wanted to see if the bacteria in the manure that we started with survived after we put it on the plants,” said Spanninger. This is a controlled way modeling how irrigation water may become naturally contaminated in real-life situations.

The students then harvested the tomatoes and leafy greens by hand and used random sampling strategies to look at the levels of generic E. coli on the plants.

Explaining that because the outdoors is a complicated, unsterile environment, Kniel said that they tested for generic E. coli because it is an indicator organism, meaning that if increased levels of generic E. coli show up, there could be a potential risk associated with the irrigation water. This is the current industry standard and part of a grower’s best practices.

The problem with rain

Another part of the research on which the students worked was the development of water safety metrics to help decide how many generic bacteria — nonpathogenic bacteria — can be found in water used for irrigation.

students look for contaminants in rain water“They’re associating the levels of bacteria in the water with climactic changes with rainfall and wind and relative humidity and temperatures to try and understand what puts produce at risk for having higher bacterial levels or potential pathogens,” said Kniel.

Ultimately, Kniel said that rainfall more than anything else poses a problem for growers when it comes to bacterial contamination on fruit that may have originated in irrigation water. Using DNA fingerprint analysis on the recovered E. coli, Spanninger was able to trace bacteria coming from the manure through the tomatoes on different plants.

“We actually are seeing that the initial amounts of generic bacteria in the water are not really the biggest issue. Bacterial decay on plants occurs within a couple of days. Rainfall seems to really affect fresh produce,” Kniel said. “We think that rain close to harvest dates is an important consideration and should be part of a Food Safety Plan, so we’re sharing with the FDA that aspects other than strict water metrics should be considered. At this time meeting the water standards the FDA is suggesting is difficult for produce growers around the country, in particular those that use surface water for irrigation.”

Spanninger agreed with that assessment. “From what we saw, the greatest influence on bacterial presence and persistence was big rain events, which we’ve been getting more of in recent years.” He explained that the research was conducted last fall during Hurricane Sandy and in the summer when the area was doused with a large amount of rainfall.

Spanninger also added that possible contamination from animals — such as geese, dogs, and groundhogs in the field — is another issue that the group is investigating. Wildlife intrusion into produce fields is an important area of study along with irrigation water standards.

In addition to looking for E. coli, the group — along with the research teams at other universities involved in the project — also set out to identify potential hot spots for growers, areas where they would have the most success growing crops without high risk of contamination.

Ferelli explained, “The overarching implications of this research are going to be for the growers to be able to have a better grip on where the risk is in the field. So if a grower goes out now with this risk in mind and he or she see’s there has been a rain event, or observes that an animal has come in and left it’s signature, instead of just taking out that one plant that has been affected, the grower will be better equipped with knowledge to recognize the possibility to section off several plants in that area.’”

Article by Adam Thomas

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UD’s Williams spends summer as intern on Herr Angus Farm

August 20, 2013 under CANR News

Kathryn Williams spends summer interning at Herr'sAs an animal and food science major, University of Delaware senior Kathryn Williams was looking for a summer internship that incorporated both of those elements. Luckily for Williams, her adviser, Lesa Griffiths, knew just the place.

Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, has a long history with the Herr company – based in nearby Nottingham, Pa., and a leader in the snack food industry — and she suggested that Williams apply for a summer internship.

Williams took the advice and met with Dennis Byrne, manager of the Herr Angus Farm and a UD alumnus who received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Distinguished Alumni Award, and he offered her an internship on the spot.

Williams has now been working at the cattle farm since May 28, and said she is enjoying the hands-on experience the internship offers.

“I’m basically a farm hand — even though I’m technically the intern,” said Williams. “The first day I was thrown right in with everything. They were running cows through the shoot, doing a lot of medical checks and giving a lot of timed breeding shots. There was no, ‘Oh, you’re the intern, you can just sit and watch us.’ They put me right to work and it’s been great. I’m learning so much.”

Williams said that she usually arrives at the Herr farm around 8 a.m. and stays until 4 p.m. or later. Her daily routine consists of riding around the fields with her boss to check on the cows and make sure that they are well and, if not, bring them in for a medical check. She helps out with shots and other basic medical procedures, as well as lending a hand for any miscellaneous jobs that need to be performed — like fixing fences or mowing lawns.

One of her favorite parts of the internship has been learning to drive the tractors and getting to climb to the top of the silo.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but there’s an enclosed ladder and it was worth it. I got to the top and got my camera out and was taking pictures,” said Williams.

Williams admitted that when she first took the internship, she did so in order to broaden her horizons, but now after working with beef cows for the summer, she can see herself doing it as a career. “Now that I’ve gotten into it, I’ve really enjoyed working with beef cows. It’s a lot different than working with dairy cows and I’ve actually come to enjoy it a lot more.”

And of course, interning at the Herr farm does have the added bonus of being close to their famous and flavorful potato chips, especially the salt and vinegar or the kettle cooked chips, which are Williams’ favorites.

Multi-tasking

Williams is preparing for a busy senior year, as she performs her duties in the Sigma Alpha sorority and serves as president of the Animal Science Club. But multi-tasking is nothing knew to Williams.

In addition to interning on the farm this summer, Williams also volunteers at Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services (PAWS) for People with her dog, Riley.

The organization visits nursing homes, hospitals and children’s hospitals and volunteers sit and talk with people one-on-one. Williams has been volunteering by visiting an adult day center, with Riley in tow.

“I’ve been visiting the one place for so long, I’ve developed relationships with each person, so I’m able to just sit and chat with them and they’ll sit there and pet Riley the whole time we’re talking, and it’s just really nice,” said Williams. “A lot of the time you get feedback from them, and it’s just so wonderful to see how much they enjoy it.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

Video by Adam Thomas and Danielle Quigley

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Department of Animal and Food Sciences holds 6th annual Student and Graduate Picnic

May 14, 2013 under CANR News

ANFS holds 6th annual picnicOn Friday, May 10, the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) held its 6th annual Student and Graduate Picnic, with this year’s theme being “The Hungry Games,” from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the Webb Farm.

The picnic was organized by students in Tanya Gressley’s dairy production class. Gressley, associate professor of animal and food sciences, had her students divided into teams of three or four and assigned each team a specific task—such as designing t-shirts, collecting photos and creating thank you posters for the staff—to complete.

Beautiful weather, cow print table clothes and balloons helped add to the festive nature of the day as Gressley and Jack Gelb, chairperson of ANFS, welcomed everyone to the event and offered remarks on the graduating seniors.

The farm staff was thanked by the students, some of which put on a skit to show their appreciation to the farm staff that has helped them out over the years.

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UD donors fund Equine Studies Program

January 22, 2013 under CANR News

Funding has been provided for an equine studies programStuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant of Greenville, Del., recently donated $1 million to develop and support an Equine Studies Program in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at the University of Delaware. With this generous gift, the University will create an equine studies minor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences that will be available to UD students.

“The Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) has recognized for some time that our undergraduate programs could be significantly enhanced by the addition of a minor in equine studies,” said Jack Gelb Jr., chairperson of ANFS. “However, we have not had the resources to make an equine minor a reality.” That was, of course, before Stuart and Suzanne Grant generously stepped in.

Stuart Grant is co-founder and managing director of the Wilmington law firm Grant and Eisenhofer. A lawyer by trade and alumnus of Brandeis University and New York University Law School, he and his wife may not be the most obvious choice to endow an equine studies program at the University of Delaware. Their story, though, illustrates an interesting path of great affinity for both horses and UD.

In 2000, the Grants purchased their first racehorse. When that horse began winning races, the excitement propelled them to begin building a horse breeding and racing enterprise that today includes a horse farm, a training center and substantial racing and breeding stock – an impressive operation that provides employment for many in the South Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania regions. Through it all, there was one thing about the horse business that bothered Stuart Grant.

“When my horses were being examined by the veterinary staff, I couldn’t always understand everything the vets were telling me — and I hated that,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to continue my education by taking pre-veterinary courses that would help me better understand the horses.”

In fall 2009, Grant gave up his position as an adjunct professor of law at Widener University School of Law and enrolled as a part-time student at UD, taking courses in animal science. A year and a half later, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell nominated Grant to the University’s Board of Trustees.

It is Grant’s subsequent relationship as a UD Trustee and student, as well as his enduring commitment to the horse breeding and racing industries, that prompted the Grants’ recent $1 million gift to CANR. The gift is most welcomed by the leadership of the college.

“The Grants’ gift will allow us to grow enrollment and interest in the college, which is a major priority at this time,” said CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “Though it will be open to students within CANR, we hope the equine minor also will attract students from outside the college. In doing so, the equine minor will allow non-CANR students to learn more about our college and career opportunities, which are plentiful and rewarding.”

Grant agrees, and said he foresees many students not currently involved in CANR being drawn to the college by the new equine studies minor. “More than half of the current members of the University’s equestrian team are majoring in disciplines outside of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,” he said. “They may be business majors or health and human development majors, but their love of horses will likely compel them to pursue this minor as a complement to their existing studies.”

The mid-Atlantic region, in which UD is located, is home to a flourishing horse industry, including thoroughbreds, standardbreds and Arabians. This makes an equine studies minor a logical and welcome addition to the UD curriculum.

One person who welcomes the addition of the equine studies minor to UD is student Samantha Rosser of Amityville, N.Y., a senior. An animal science major and member of the UD equestrian team, Rosser is a lifelong animal lover who has been riding horses for the past 13 years. As she begins applying to graduate programs in animal behavior, Rosser is keenly aware of the opportunities this new minor will create for future UD students.

“The creation of an official equine minor will encourage students to expand their areas of study,” said Rosser. “I think it will provide a great opportunity for students to learn more about horses. The University has great resources in the equine industry, and with the addition of this new minor and more courses, I believe CANR will augment its appeal to prospective students.”

Article by Shannon Pote

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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CANR students learn about veterinary career opportunities

November 2, 2012 under CANR News

15 University of Delaware students studying in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) recently took a trip to Johns Hopkins University to hear Mark Pokras, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Population and Health and at the Wildlife Clinic & Center for Conservation Medicine at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, speak about opportunities available to them in the veterinary science field.

Erin Brannick, assistant professor in ANFS, director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Comparative Pathology Laboratory and a veterinary pathologist, went on the trip with the students and said that Pokras, “Offered invaluable insight into the wide array of career options open to veterinarians. More importantly, the speaker emphasized the flexibility of a career in veterinary medicine, indicating how important it is for students to be open to changes in career aspirations and paths which can be shaped and reshaped by the students’ pre-veterinary and veterinary experiences.”

Laura Nemec, the laboratory coordinator in ANFS, who also went on the trip said that it was great for the students to learn about all the opportunities afforded to those with veterinary degrees and to see that there are more options out there than just the three most common veterinary practices: small animal practice, large animal practice and food animal practice.

“There is wildlife conservation, there are public health aspects, aquatic and marine aspects and regulatory aspects, it is huge what you can do with a veterinary degree,” said Nemec.

Nemec said that she was glad to see a wide range of students, from freshman up to seniors, go on the trip because it benefitted them all in different ways. “Our juniors and seniors were able to benefit from the procedural aspects of applying to veterinary schools and our freshman and sophomores were able to get a glimpse into the vast realm of veterinary medicine,” said Nemec.

Nemec added that it was great for the freshman, who may have come into college only looking to study small or large animals as undergraduates, to see the different opportunities afforded to them. “At the college level we are opening their minds to small, large and food animal practices, but at the vet school level they realize that these three practices are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Nemec said that Pokras also spoke to the students about funding opportunities to help them pay for vet school, application and interviewing tips, and interesting career opportunities—such as working as a veterinarian in the Army—once the students complete vet school. “Dr. Pokras was a fantastic speaker and was able to encourage and engage the students in discussions throughout the time we were there,” said Nemec.

Jesse Kovacs, a sophomore in CANR, said of the trip, “After attending Dr. Pokras’ lecture, I realized just how many options I had available to me. I had always thought of veterinary school as a way to become a small animal vet, a large animal, or an exotics vet. He demonstrated how many other jobs were out there for someone who had attended vet school.”

Ashley Tait, a sophomore in CANR, echoed these sentiments, saying that she was “amazed at how many options there were besides being a large and small animal veterinarian. Joining the military, working in public health fields, or working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), all encompass jobs with veterinarians.” She also added that Pokras made it clear that if you do not get accepted into veterinary school right away, to keep applying yourself and to not give up. “Become more experienced and diversify yourself, until you are accepted and make your dreams come true.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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