UD, Penn to co-host annual equitation science conference July 18-20

June 17, 2013 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania will co-host the ninth annual conference of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) July 18-20.

ISES is a nonprofit organization that facilitates research into the training of horses so as to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship.

With the theme of “Embracing Science to Enhance Equine Welfare and Horse-Human Interactions,” the conference will bring together more than 200 equine scientists, veterinarians, students, horse trainers, instructors and riders to discuss equitation science research.

Presentation days will be held at UD’s Clayton Hall Conference Center in Newark July 18-19 and the practical day program, with live demonstrations, will take place at Penn’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., July 20.

“This conference has much to offer equine professionals, and other members of the equine community actively engaged in the industry,” said Carissa Wickens, a UD assistant professor of animal and food sciences and co-chair of the conference organizing committee. “It will focus on ways of improving horse training as well as encouraging the development of science-based criteria to measure the welfare of the horse in its interactions with humans.”

Keynote speakers for the conference include Natalie Waran from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh; Hayley Randle from Duchy College in Great Britain; Jan Ladewig from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; Hilary Clayton from Michigan State University; and Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney in Australia.

To register for the conference, or more information, see this website.

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Students find poultry career opportunities at the International Production and Processing Expo

May 24, 2013 under CANR News

Students found out about Poultry careers at the IPPE expoStudents from the University of Delaware interested in the poultry industry walked away with a lot more than information and a great experience at the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association’s International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) held in Atlanta, Georgia. Some even walked away with job offers.

UD sent 11 students to the event as well as Kali Kniel, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS). This year, the IPPE set record attendance numbers with over 25,000 visitors and over 1,000 exhibitors. The expo is the world’s largest annual poultry, meat and feed industry event of its kind and one of the 50 largest trade shows in the United States.

The students had most of their travel expenses covered thanks to a grant received by U.S. Poultry and Egg and also some funding from the UD Career Services Center.

The event was a culmination of UD’s Poultry Careers Seminar Series that the students participated in during the 2012 fall semester. The seminar series was organized by Bob Alphin, instructor in ANFS and manager of the Allen Laboratory, and Kniel, and students learned about the many different opportunities afforded to them by the poultry industry from leading industry professionals, with representatives from Perdue Farms, the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. and Mountaire Farms—among others—coming in to speak with the student participants.

As for the trip itself, Kniel said that she felt like it was a great learning experience for the students.

“I think that was a really good way to boost their interest and learn about the allied industries and the kind of depth in the careers that are available with poultry,” explained Kniel. “Because it’s not just working with live birds and it’s not just working in a processing plant, it’s really all the careers in health and production and it’s just a very broad scope.”

Caryn Deakyne, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), who attended the program, said that the expo, “Completely opened my eyes up to the countless opportunities in the poultry industry as well as other related fields. By attending this expo I was able to really hone in on the specific jobs that I was looking for and spend the most time focusing on them.”

Deakyne added that Kniel was a great person to have on the trip as she was “such a supportive resource, and she even helped push me towards companies that I was nervous to speak with.”

The students got first hand experience with job interviews, as they were able to interview with many companies during the 3-day program.

Nina Lee, a senior in CANR who went on the trip, explained that the interviews were fast paced, set up in 30-minute increments, and took place with leading industry companies such as Perdue Farms, Mountaire Farms, Butterball and Boar’s Head, among others.

Lee said that she found the interviewing process to be the most beneficial aspect of the trip. “I thought I was astute and well poised before interviews, but after interviewing in Atlanta I learned so many tricks and subtle ways to appear more collected, confident, and eloquent. I became a lot more comfortable and was able to read the interviewer’s questions and responses, while answering with concise but well-thought out answers. Essentially, I learned how to genuinely market myself while showing my professionalism and poise.”

Kniel said that every senior who went on the trip walked away with a job offer from one of the leading producers in the poultry industry. She also encouraged students to look into careers in poultry as she said “Careers in the poultry industry are basically recession proof. The companies are continuing to do well, people eat, food is still being produced, and the health of the animals is still important.”

She also noted that the expo is fantastic as “it’s such a friendly environment. Everyone was very warm, very friendly and very excited to meet the students and to talk about the careers and the positions that they had available. There was a lot of enthusiasm.”

As for Deakyne, she said that the trip played a large part in her recent acceptance of a full-time position with Perdue Farms, Inc., and that she will be entering their plant management trainee program in June in Georgetown, Delaware.

Lee has also accepted a position as a plant management trainee with Perdue Farms in their Milford, Delaware processing plant.

Article by Adam Thomas

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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 grad student sets up collaborative research with Brazil’s UFLA

May 2, 2013 under CANR News

During spring break, University of Delaware graduate student Allison Rogers spent a week at Brazil’s University Federal de Lavras (UFLA) to secure future collaborations for research on broiler chickens and to assist Carl Schmidt, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, in his research on the global genomic diversity of chickens.

A self-professed “bird lady” who was named a Plastino Scholar in 2011 and traveled the country discussing the importation and smuggling of parrots into the United States, Rogers was able to set up a collaboration with researchers at UFLA that will see her return to the University in June. Her research deals with studying “the effect of alternative lighting technologies such as LED and cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) light bulbs on the growth and performance of broiler chickens.”

Allison Rogers traveled to Brazil's UFLA campusRogers, a master’s degree student studying animal science in the laboratory group of Eric Benson, associate professor of animal and food sciences, and Robert Alphin, instructor in the department and manager of the Allen Laboratory, explained that incandescent light bulbs traditionally have been used in chicken houses but now growers are moving toward higher efficiency light bulbs and they want to be able to determine whether or not these new lighting technologies have any effect on the growth of their birds, which would impact them economically.

“Our interest in Brazil, particularly in the region that we’re visiting, is that they’re able to raise their birds in completely open houses,” said Rogers, explaining that the chickens are “enclosed within a house but they have enormous windows that are completely open — they have natural ventilation and natural lighting. That is so different from what we have, which is completely enclosed, artificial ventilation and artificial lighting. I’ll be collecting blood samples upon my return, to compare relative stress levels between birds raised under natural light versus birds raised under artificial light.”

Schmidt added that when Rogers goes back in June, her collaborators at UFLA will have “set up a flock for her. They will grow the chickens for five weeks and in June she will begin sampling the birds to evaluate in a fairly straightforward way their immune function and stress levels, and to be able to compare that with the data she’s collected on her own flocks here in Delaware.”

As for this most recent trip, Rogers was assisting Schmidt with his research, helping to collect genetic samples from backyard chickens that will help aid his studies on the genomics of the common chicken and how they respond to different environments — such as very hot and high altitude environments — with the hope that the genetic information will allow livestock breeders in the United States to improve their flocks.

“We took samples using a piece of paper that has been treated so that you can take one drop of blood from an animal and put it on this piece of paper and it will stabilize the sample and destroy any  viruses or bacteria. It allows you to keep that stabilized sample and then analyze it later on,” Rogers explained.

As one who is enthralled with exotic species of birds, Rogers said that just because she was studying chickens in Brazil didn’t mean that she was not able to see exotic species — sometimes getting to do so without even leaving the UFLA campus. “I got made fun of by Dr. Schmidt because at one point we were on the campus and a toucan flew over head and I was just like, ‘Toucan!’” said Rogers. “It was so exciting to see these species that you would never see in the United States and the people in Brazil are just as excited about them as we are, which is really wonderful. They say they’re really proud that the university has kept enough foliage and enough resources for these birds to still be able to live in this quasi-urban setting. That was really important to them.”

Rogers added that she saw similarities between UFLA and UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, making for a seamless collaborative environment. “UFLA is an agriculturally and historically based university and so we felt very at home when we arrived. There are very strong programs there for horses as well as cattle and so we really just kind of felt at home. Everyone was very welcoming. The students that helped us were just wonderful and so caring.”

About the partnership between UD and UFLA

In 2011, CANR and the College of Arts and Sciences received a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and International Science and Education program (USDA-NIFA-ISE) to continue on a three-year partnership with UFLA.

The hope of this partnership is to establish both long-standing academic programs and research partnerships, with both institutions helping each other in those areas in which their research overlaps.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Animal Science Club to screen the film “Temple Grandin”

April 25, 2013 under CANR News

The Animal Science Club will host a viewing of the award winning HBO film Temple Grandin on Wednesday, May 1, at 5:30 p.m. in 006 Kirkbride Hall. The film stars Claire Danes as Temple Grandin, and portrays the early life and career of Grandin, the challenges she faced and her accomplishments as a young woman growing up with autism.

Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling and animal welfare. She has designed livestock handling facilities located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

Nearly half of the cattle in North America are handled in a center track restrainer system that Grandin designed for meat plants. Her research interests include cattle temperament, environmental enrichment for pigs, bull fertility, training procedures, and effective stunning methods for cattle and pigs at meat plants.

Grandin has authored several books including: Thinking in Pictures, Livestock Handling and Transport, Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals, and Humane Livestock Handling. Her books Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human were both on the New York Times best-seller list.

The film will be introduced by Carissa Wickens, assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, who recently co-authored a chapter on horse handling and transport for Grandin’s 4th edition of Livestock Handling and Transport. Wickens also had the privilege of serving as a judge alongside Grandin during the Collegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition held at Michigan State University in the fall of 2011.

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Lutz credits UD for setting her on path to livestock career

April 1, 2013 under CANR News
Kaitlyn Lutz talks to UD students

Lutz, pictured to the right, talks to UD students

Before coming to the University of Delaware, Kaitlyn Lutz had never worked on a dairy farm. Now, as she finishes up her work as a veterinary resident at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, she is considering a clinical and consulting career, helping farmers with animal health needs and nutrient management planning.

Lutz has been in the residency program at the New Bolton Center in nearby Kennett Square, Pa., since 2012. She has worked in the field service section, mostly with livestock, a passion that originated when she was a UD undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) studying in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Lutz explained that as an undergraduate, she traveled with Robert Dyer, associate professor of animals and food sciences to dairy farms to conduct research on lameness and realized that she wanted to work with livestock. “Prior to that trip I was planning to work with horses, but then Dr. Dyer basically started my interest in livestock,” said Lutz.

As a field service resident at New Bolton Center, Lutz explained that her days consist of taking students on rounds, covering various veterinary topics in the morning, then traveling to dairy farms. At the farms, she treats sick livestock and does general herd work, such as performing pregnancy checks.

“We also do small ruminant work, so often times we go and inspect sheep and goats in the afternoon or do small beef herds,” said Lutz. “So we kind of have a variety of things other than our weekly routine where we go to dairies, and all the time we have students with us who we’re teaching along the way.”

As for her favorite part of the residency, Lutz said that she relishes the opportunity to meet and talk with farmers. “Interacting with farmers, I learn a ton every day because they’re incredibly smart people. They have their hands in business and agriculture and economics, all at the same time, so you can learn a wealth of information from them.”

When it comes to doling out advice to current students at UD interested in veterinary medicine, Lutz said that it is imperative to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by CANR.

“There are so many clubs at Delaware and so many professors who are veterinarians or who have access to veterinarians that they can go shadow. They can go and get experience out on the farms or in small animal clinics and see what they’re really interested in, and make sure that veterinary medicine is indeed what they want to do.”

She isn’t shy about her affinity for UD either. “UD is by far the best institution in the United States. Whenever students are in the truck I tell them that. I loved it there and I think the program is great, and the kids should take advantage of every aspect of it that they can.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Christy Mannering

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD student Volpone travels to Africa to work with exotic animals

March 20, 2013 under CANR News

southafrica922On her second day in South Africa, University of Delaware student Melissa Volpone found herself doing something out of the ordinary: petting a lion. That seemed appropriate because, after all, one of the main reasons that she was wanted to go to Africa was because of a lion, albeit a cartoon one.

“I’ve wanted to go to Africa since The Lion King came out,” said Volpone, a sophomore pre-veterinary major in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, adding that the lion she petted didn’t even seem to notice. “The lion didn’t even care, he just swiped at me with his claws in and it was awesome. It was so cool.”

The lion that she was able to pet was not just a random wild lion, but rather a lion that was raised in Moholoholo, a wildlife rehabilitation center that Volpone was able to work with through an organization called Go Eco. Volpone said that she learned about Go Eco during her time interning at the Philadelphia Zoo, and before she knew it, she was in Hoedspruit, South Africa, taking care of animals.

Volpone explained her day-to-day routine involved mostly general animal care rather than veterinary care. “I would get up at 6 a.m., seven days a week and feed and clean animals until 8:30 a.m., and then get breakfast,” explained Volpone. She said that all of the volunteers got together to clean the big animal cages and the big water bowls, as well as go on the occasional hike.

Another aspect of her job involved playing with or feeding the baby animals. In particular, there was one baby rhino that needed constant attention.

“We had this 11-month-old baby rhino that needed babysitting because it had to be with its human mom all day long, and every once in a while the mom needed a break. So we just stayed with this baby rhino for awhile, who was sometimes sweet and sometimes not,” explained Volpone.

The baby rhino was not the only infant on the site either, as Volpone said that she arrived “during baby season so there were babies all the time. I helped feed some lion cubs and I raised my own baby bird.”

Besides petting a lion and babysitting a rhino, Volpone was also able to do something else out of the ordinary: take a cheetah for a walk. “We walked with these cheetahs and they weren’t babies, they were full grown cheetahs and we just chilled with them,” she said.

Volpone encourages those interested in volunteering at Moholoholo to do so, as she said the experience was absolutely incredible.

As for her, she now has the travel bug and said that she would like to explore everywhere. “I can see myself as an adult just taking trips back to Africa to work at places like this, but now I want to go somewhere else. There’s a World Vets trip to Cambodia next winter that I’m looking at and I’d love to see New Zealand and Fiji. My friends and I are planning on going to Europe before we graduate. I want many different experiences.”

Ag Ambassador

Now that she is back in Delaware, Volpone, who is an Ag Ambassador in CANR, said that she is looking forward to giving tours as an Ag Ambassador and helping students see the opportunities afforded to them by the college.

Volpone explained that when she was trying to make her decision about which University to attend, it was an Ag Ambassador tour that ultimately swayed her to come to UD. “I went on a Ag Ambassador tour and it was very informative. The ambassador drove me out on the farm, she answered all my questions, and that’s when I decided to come here.”

She added that she enjoys having the opportunity to show off the perks of UD to potential students now that she is an Ag Ambassador. “I love helping students. I had a student last semester and this place was so far from her home but she wanted to go here so badly because she saw the farm, and so that’s what I love about it.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Video by Adam Thomas and Christy Mannering

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD’s Carroll returns to animal care roots at Delaware Humane Association

March 18, 2013 under CANR News

For Patrick Carroll, serving as the executive director of the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) is akin to coming full circle since his days as an undergraduate student majoring in animal science in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

UD Alum Patrick Carroll serves as executive director of Delaware Humane AssociationCarroll started out as a pre-veterinary student before deciding that it just wasn’t for him and transitioned into a career more focused on 4-H and youth development. “I got a work study job with New Castle County 4-H and I kind of fell in love with 4-H and youth development and education, so I wanted to be a 4-H agent,” he said.

Carroll worked with Mark Manno, a Cooperative Extension specialist who he said “really helped me a lot — just gave me great experiences and mentored me, and I really owe my love for 4-H to him.” 

Carroll noted how ironic it is that even though he spent a lot of time working with non-profit organizations and youth development, he still ended up doing what he initially went to college for — working with animals.

Of CANR in general, Carroll said that even though he didn’t end up becoming a vet, he felt that the college helped prepare him by giving him a combination of hands-on experience — working with animals ranging from cows to chickens — and a great classroom atmosphere.

“The thing I love most about CANR is that UD is a big university, so you have the big university feel, but then on the other hand, being in CANR was a more tight-knit and closer community. So I really do think that it’s the best of both worlds. I really enjoyed the faculty and the other students. I had a great experience.”

After UD

After graduating from UD, Carroll went to Penn State where he received a master’s degree in extension education. After a four-year stint in Ohio working with 4-H, Carroll decided to move back East and after working at a few different jobs he was informed about an opening for a development director at the Delaware Humane Association.

“I came here as the development director first in 2006 and I was the development director for four years,” said Carroll. “Then our executive director left and I became the acting director and applied to be the executive director, and so I’ve been the executive director for three years.”

As the executive director, Carroll said that his biggest duties include strategy and fundraising, especially now as DHA prepares to build a new facility. After looking for a new home, DHA decided that the best thing to do was stay where they were and upgrade.

Having raised enough money to do so, the organization plans to break ground on the new facility in the spring, which according to Carroll will be the first new animal shelter built in northern Delaware in a long time.

delhumane6859There are other aspects to Carroll’s job, as well. “We have about 30 employees so there’s a lot of facets — there’s a veterinary facet, there’s a facility, there’s fundraising, there’s animal care,” said Carroll.

As a no kill shelter, something that Carroll said is becoming more common in Delaware, a state which has a strong no-kill movement, DHA can house up to 40 dogs and 100 cats.

Carroll said that they do not like to exceed this number for health reasons. “We’re not huge — some of the other shelters are much bigger than us or they have more animals than they can really house — but we try to be very responsible about housing a number that we can manage for health reasons. If we had more animals than we really should, sickness tends to increase.”

By being a no-kill organization, however, Carroll said that medical costs are high. “That’s a big cost of ours. We’re all about adoption, moving animals forward; we’re not a sanctuary, we don’t want anyone to stay here for a long period of time and the first goal of our mission is to be a temporary shelter.”

As for his favorite part about the job, Carroll said there are many, but he especially loves getting to see all of the new dogs when they first arrive.

“We get dogs in two main ways. We have owner surrenders, which is when someone has to give up a dog for various reasons and we take them in. And the other way is we transfer them from other shelters, mainly from the Kent County SPCA,” explained Carroll.

“We usually bring about 7-8 dogs at a time, and so one of my favorite things is when they get back and we open the van doors and you see all these faces of new dogs. It’s just nice to see them get into our doors and we take good care of them and find them a good home.”

Carroll also said that he enjoys connecting people with a pet and creating a life-long connection that way.

“It isn’t even really in my ‘official’ job description but my favorite part is really linking people to pets. I spend a lot of time with people who are looking for a cat or a dog or they’re referred to me or are my friends or family or people I went to high school with or college or whatever. It has major dividends because it connects people to the organization, and if they have a great experience and they love this dog or this cat they adopted they end up being a supporter and coming to our events and they get it because they’ve experienced it firsthand,” said Carroll.

For more information on DHA, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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UD’s Schmidt studies heat stress, disease resistance in African chickens

February 11, 2013 under CANR News

Last fall, the University of Delaware’s Carl Schmidt took a trip to Uganda with a team of researchers from Iowa State University and North Carolina State University to get genetic samples from African chickens. The goal was to compare and contrast their genes to one another, and also to American broiler chickens, to gauge how the two species’ genetic makeup helps them cope with heat stress, as well as susceptibility and resistance to different diseases.

The trip was part of a five-year, $4.7 million National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) climate change grant for a project titled “Adapting Chicken Production to Climate Change Through Breeding.”

UD Professor Carl Schmidt studies chickens in AfricaSchmidt explained that the objective of the trip was “to try to identify genes that may be helping these birds survive on different diets, in a different climate, and facing different disease challenges.”

Schmidt, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said that the group gathered more than 100 samples of African chicken DNA from “back yard flocks” of chickens from three cities from different regions of the country: Buwama, Wobulenzi and Kamuli.

Aiding the group in the research being done in Uganda was the organization Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO), which Schmidt called invaluable as it supplied the researchers with lodging during their time in Kamuli. The group also collaborated with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which gave them access to samples ILRI had collected from chickens in Kenya.

Now that the researchers have the samples from Africa, researchers at North Carolina State are processing the DNA. Once the DNA is processed, Schmidt will work at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute to handle the sequencing of the genome and the bioinformatics.

Chicken differences

Schmidt said one of the main variances that might have an impact on the genetic differences between the American chickens raised in a production facility and the African chickens, which roam, is diet. The African chickens will eat anything that is available to them, including bugs, whereas the American chickens in production facilities are fed a largely corn-based meal. Schmidt said that he is interested to see “what kind of impact that has had on the genes that are involved in actually getting nutrients out of insects.”

Another difference between the two birds is that whereas American chickens raised in production facilities are relatively sheltered from the elements and from disease, African chickens are pretty much on their own. Schmidt explained that the African chickens are “exposed to the environment — they usually have a small building that they can go into, sometimes they even just go into the homes, but for the most part, they have to fend for themselves.”

Schmidt added that the African chickens also have to deal with predators, theft and “then of course they are also exposed to more disease agents than certainly the birds that are in production facilities here. And the thought is that they’ve been in essence selected to deal with these challenges.”

The group didn’t only get samples from traditional African chickens, however, as Schmidt explained that they also ran into a line of chickens imported from India and they wanted to examine the genome of those chickens, as well.

When it comes to size, Schmidt explained that African chickens are smaller than the American broiler chickens one would find in a production facility or at a grocery store. One reason for this is that whereas the production facility chicken is raised to be eaten, the African chicken is kept alive so it can continuously provide eggs as a food source.

Now that the group has collected samples from American and African chickens, Schmidt is hopeful that he will be able to head to Brazil in the summer — as part of a joint agreement between CANR and the University Federal de Lavras — to collect samples of chicken DNA from South America.

“What we’d like to do is get a couple of different geographic locations,” said Schmidt. “And the interesting thing to me is, Uganda kind of straddles the equator and Brazil isn’t quite straddling the equator but it’s a little more similar to Uganda than it is to the United States, so you can kind of see if there are any similarities.”

Schmidt also said that once he gets samples from Brazil, he would be interested in collecting samples from other locations, as well. “One of the things I’d love to do is go to Central America.”

Researchers and students who went on the trip and are involved in the grant from Iowa State include Max Rothschild, the Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and director of the Center for Integrated Animal Genomics, and Angelica Bjorkquist and Damarius Fleming, both graduate students.

Researchers and students who went on the trip and are involved in the grant from North Carolina State include Chris Ashwell, associate professor of poultry genomics, nutrition, immunology and physiology, and Alex Zavelo, a graduate student.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo provided by Carl Schmidt

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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

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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