UD students get hands-on animal experience during lambing season

April 17, 2014 under CANR News

UD students spent the month of March on Lamb WatchStudents in the University of Delaware’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences 417 Capstone Course spent the beginning of the spring semester on the farm in the early morning hours of the day or into the early evening on “lamb watch,” keeping an eye out to see if any of the pregnant ewes in the UD flock were about to give birth.

Under the guidance of Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and Larry Armstrong, farm manager, the students spent the month of March — which was peak time for lambing this year — watching over the 52 ewes, which produced 93 lambs. The figures were up from the 81 lambs from 42 ewes last year.

The 30-member class was divided into groups with four or five students per group and an honors student liaison, as the class is also an Honors Program capstone course. Each student had to sign up for six lamb watches during the lambing season in addition to their regular lab meetings once a week.

The earliest shift was from 6-7:30 a.m. and the latest was from 8-9:30 p.m. Each student had to write in a barn journal to provide an update on what they did and what they noticed for the next students scheduled to arrive at the farm, and Griffiths said that before spring break, there had been over 320 entries in the journal.

Griffiths said that if a lamb was born on a group’s watch, that group would take care of the lamb for the semester.

“They are responsible for making the decision as to when it’s appropriate to ear tag and dock their tails. They weigh and record birth weights, 10-day weights, 30-day weights, and they’ll administer their vaccines,” said Griffiths.

She added that this real world, hands-on experience is critical to the development of the students.

“They really learn because when it comes to animal care, there is a much greater responsibility in terms of making sure the task gets done and playing your role,” said Griffiths. “You really have a responsibility and a level of accountability to the other people in your group and to the animals. I think the students learn a lot of people skills, communication skills and time management skills, as they have to relay information accurately and quickly.”

Armstrong noted, “After lambing, the students take an integral part in the challenges that arise from raising one of the world’s oldest domestic animals. The labs have been structured, yet are organic and fun at the same time.”

He added that the students “have done an amazing job of learning management skills and protocols from Dr. Griffiths then helping me to apply their newly learned skills in very real world situations. They learn, teach each other and confidently perform tasks that will put them above and beyond others in their future careers.”

Casey Foreman, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that lamb watch was mostly to make sure everything was proceeding as normal with the ewes and to notify Armstrong or Griffiths if one was having problems delivering.

“The ewes are usually able to give birth without any assistance. Once she has had the lamb, we can go in and clean off the lamb’s nose and mouth to make sure that it is able to breathe. Then we leave it alone so that the ewe can clean it off and begin to take care of it,” said Foreman.

Foreman, who has witnessed three births this lambing season, said her favorite part about the class is working with the animals. “We get to interact with the lambs, weighing them to keep track of their growth, giving them ear tags, and docking their tails. We also have to move the ewes, with their lambs, to different parts of the barn as the lambs get older. From the maternity bay with the pregnant sheep to a jug, an individualized pen where the mom can bond with her baby, and then to a mixing pen where groups of ewes and their babies are brought together again.”

During one particularly difficult lambing session this year, they had to call the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center for assistance, and it just so happened that the center sent a familiar face — Kaitlyn Lutz, a UD alumna who graduated in 2007 with a degree in animal science and pre-veterinary medicine and is a second-year resident at New Bolton.

“To walk in and see her there was really nice,” Griffiths said, “not only because she’s an alum but because she’s interested in small ruminants and it’s not always easy to find a veterinarian with expertise in sheep.”

Lutz said that she currently trains veterinary students on all livestock species — sheep, goats and dairy and beef cows — and because UD is a client, she explained, “The involvement I have here is all on the veterinary side and we come down once a week to take care of any lambing issues and any sick animals. And if there are students here, they get to become involved.”

Lutz said it is great to come back to UD and see the facilities and interact with the people. “It’s really nice to have that involvement and then to also know that when I come back, I can be so proud of what the University of Delaware has to offer,” said Lutz. “All of the facilities are great, the people here are great, and it’s nice to bring vet students here to teach them using such a great facility with good management and have that interaction now that I’ve learned more — and am still learning from the people here.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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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’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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University and Herr’s renew commitment

February 22, 2013 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and Herr’s have renewed their commitment, assuring that a longstanding and fruitful relationship will remain strong into the future.

The agreement will see Herr’s products return to the UD campus beginning this spring and includes opportunities for tours of the Herr’s plant and cattle farm for students and faculty in support of the education mission of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

Herr's and UD continue their relationshipAlso, the agreement provides for the consideration of qualified CANR students to participate in formal internships at Herr’s; continued support for other UD educational activities, including workshops on topics such as beef cattle quality assurance; participation of Herr’s representatives at UD career fairs, and consideration of qualified UD students for employment opportunities.

Herr’s has been extremely helpful to UD over the years, especially when it comes to CANR, college officials said.

According to Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Herr’s was instrumental in helping equip UD with an Angus cattle herd. In particular, she cited the efforts of Dennis Byrne, manager of Herr Angus Farm and a 1977 UD graduate who was recently named an Ag Distinguished Alumni.

“I came to UD in the late 1980s, and I was tasked with oversight of the beef cattle herd,” said Griffiths. She explained that at the time, UD’s herd consisted of a half-dozen crossbred animals that were not suitable to tell students were representative of beef cattle.

Griffiths looked at various farms, planning to purchase cattle in order to start the new program, and met Byrne. “Through Dennis, Herr’s was very instrumental in providing us with some of our initial breeding stock,” said Griffiths. “So, essentially, the Angus cattle herd at UD was started with the assistance of Dennis Byrne and Herr’s.”

Byrne said he has had great experiences working with CANR and noted that when he returned to campus to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, he was excited to see both the research being done at CANR and the job opportunities afforded to those who graduate from the college.

“The opportunities that [CANR] is creating for people in that field is really impressive,” Byrne said. “In my opinion, they’re going to continue to be on the cutting edge in the agriculture world.”

In addition to the cattle herd, Herr’s has also helped CANR in other ways. The company, for instance, has a working cattle operation with 1,000 head of Angus that includes a feedlot, something that Griffiths stressed is very rare in the eastern part of the United States.

“Herr’s has a feedlot that is utilizing byproduct feeds from the manufacturing plant. They have very strict environmental standards to follow because they are dealing with not only the waste from the snack food manufacturing but also waste from the cattle operation,” said Griffiths. “So it’s a great place for students to go to look at all of the different things that are in place to deal with the environment and sustainability.”

Daryl Thomas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Herr’s, explained that the students have also learned about how Herr’s recycles its wastewater, about its irrigation program, how the company utilizes recycled packaging and about its state of the art fuel saving program — the Herr’s plant is equipped with a steam recovery system.

Nutrition and food science classes have also toured the Herr’s plant, and students have participated in workshops. One such workshop, Griffiths pointed out, was a beef quality assurance workshop at which Byrne showed students how to handle beef cattle, using a load of cattle Herr’s had just brought in from Virginia as an example of how to give vaccines and to see what happens in an intake situation with a large number of livestock arriving at a new farm.

But it isn’t just CANR that benefits from the relationship with Herr’s. Thomas explained that he has also been able to give presentations to many business and marketing students, as well.

“I have been a guest lecturer, and I was trying to calculate how long I have lectured for over the years — if it was 100 hours, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration,” said Thomas.

Thomas said that Herr’s is always receptive to doing events with UD, whether it be a company representative speaking at a class, UD students using Herr’s as part of their class projects, or CANR students from touring the Herr’s farm to learn about sustainability practices.

“I would just say that we’ve been really good neighbors,” said Thomas. “We obviously have done business with UD in terms of selling our products on campus and so many of our employees reside in Delaware. We’ve had members of our management team get their master of business administration (MBA) degrees from UD, and we have also provided internships, so it’s the kind of an agreement in which the door is open and the receptivity is very warm.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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These unique holiday gift ideas have a First State focus

December 17, 2012 under CANR News

blanket_yarnHaven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? You’re not alone. Only 47 percent of Americans have their shopping wrapped up by the second week of December, according to the National Retail Federation. But the clock is ticking.

No worries. We’ve rounded up some great gift ideas. Best yet, many of these choices have a uniquely Delaware focus. Some – like soil test kits and garden gloves – are tailor-made for outdoorsy types. Other gifts – like Delaware wool blankets — work equally well for couch potatoes who just gaze at the landscape from their windows.

Sure-fire way to get owls in the backyard

The young – and young at heart – will love Hoot the Owl, a chubby creature made from sunflower seed, with apple and apricot rings for eyes and an almond for the mouth.

“I stuck one in my backyard and set up a time-release camera,” says Charles Shattuck, who, with his wife Kathy, owns Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin. “I’m getting a wide variety of birds feeding at it. By late December, I expect ‘Hoot’ and my other feeders will be attracting white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches; downy, red-bellied and hairy woodpeckers; and yellow-bellied sap suckers.”

At $9.50, Hoot the Owl is a good choice for a stocking stuffer or gift exchange at work.

Wild Birds also stocks black oil sunflower seed in bulk that is grown locally, by Jamie Hicks of Kennett Square, Pa. Buy a pound or several pounds for the birdwatcher on your list.

Most serious birdwatchers prefer black oil seed. It has a higher oil content than other varieties so it provides the birds with more calories. Plus, small birds have an easier time cracking its thinner shell.

Or, consider a $22 hand-painted ornament by Dover artist Marcia Poling. Choose images of bluebirds, woodpeckers and warblers, as well as deer, rabbit and other mammals.  “They’ve been selling well,” says Shattuck.

Warm and woolly choices

The University of Delaware’s flock of Dorset ewes are sheared every spring before going out to summer pasture. Previously, their wool was sold at a regional auction to wool processors. Then farm superintendent Scott Hopkins and Lesa Griffiths, professor of animal and food sciences, put their heads together and, soon after, Blue Hen Blankets and Yarn was born. Now, after the sheep are sheared, the wool is sent to a Canadian mill to create cozy blankets.

A lap throw style, the blanket has plenty of heft — each requires four pounds of wool. Get one for $100 at the UDairy Creamery on UD’s South Campus. For creamery hours go to the website.

Hori hori knives and other garden gear

When it comes to garden tools, Carrie Murphy is a minimalist. A UD Cooperative Extension horticulture agent, Murphy gets by with a few common tools plus one that’s a bit more exotic. “I use my hori hori knife all the time,” she says.

In Japanese, the word “hori” means to dig and that’s exactly what Murphy does with her knife, plus pruning and weeding and a whole lot more. It’s the Swiss army knife of gardening.

At Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, the hori hori is usually just called a soil knife, says owner Peg Castorani. She likes it for dividing perennials. A stainless steel version in a case costs $39.99.

Finding garden gloves that fit well can be hard, especially for women, but Castorani likes Womanswork brand. “They make form-fitting, athletic style garden gloves,” she says. The $25 gloves come in purple, lime green and other bright colors.

A plastic bag sounds like an odd present until you learn what that bag can do. Gateway stocks test kits from the University of Delaware Soil Testing Program. The $10 kits include plastic bags to obtain the necessary samples. After UD analyzes the samples, your gardener will know whether pH or fertility problems are making it more difficult to grow plants.

Bring the outside in

Native Americans used birch bark to make canoes and cover their wigwams. Today hobbyists continue to take advantage of birch’s flexible nature to craft household items, ranging from baskets to picture frames. Wilmington resident Danielle Quigley makes handcrafted wood items when she’s not working as a photographer for UD. (Quigley regularly shoots the photos for this column.) One of her best-selling items is a $325 table light featuring a birch bark shade mounted on a vintage glass base. Quigley’s personal favorite is a $150 luminaire made from silver birch bark. Check them out at the website.

Article by Margo McDonough

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Animal Science Club excels in quiz bowl at NESA Competition

March 23, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Animal Science Club had a strong showing in the quiz bowl portion of the 2012 Northeast Student Affiliate (NESA) competition hosted by the University of Maine on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The quiz bowl took place in a bracket system, with the UD teams competing against 49 other teams from 10 universities, which this year included schools such as Penn State University, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.

The eight students representing UD were split up into two teams of four, UD teams A and B. Team B placed 10th overall, earning itself a blue ribbon handed out at the competition’s awards banquet.

Laura Nemec, laboratory coordinator in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the club adviser who went with the group to the competition, said that the teams from UD “were a great mix of freshman through seniors and many had little to no experience with NESA previously.”

Explaining that UD team B missed out on advancing in the quiz bowl by only one point, Nemec said that the Animal Science Club members “did a fantastic job this year and are already looking for more new members and practicing questions for next year at Rutgers. I could not be more proud of the NESA teams and Animal Science Club.”

The rounds were made up of 20 questions each, with the teams getting buzzers to ring in with the correct answers. Questions consisted of general agricultural questions, but also involved some bio-anatomy, biology and some trivia about the host school sprinkled into the competition, as well.

To prepare for the quiz bowl, Jennifer West, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and president of the Animal Science Club, explained that the students used questions from the previous year’s competition and began to study them over Winter Session. The questions also helped pass the time as they prepped on their 11-hour car ride to Maine. Another way that they prepared was having UD professors come in and “speak with us and give kind of quick mini-lectures about what they teach.”

These lectures covered topics such as anatomy, genetics and nutrition. Faculty who spoke to the club included Carissa Wickens, assistant professor of animal and food sciences, Robert Dyer, associate professor of animal and food sciences, Carl Schmidt, associate professor of animal and food sciences, and Tanya Gressley, assistant professor of animal and food sciences.

Quiz bowl was only a portion of the NESA competition, which also included a livestock judging competition and a paper presentation.

Ariana Shakory, a sophomore in CANR, explained that the club had help in preparing for the livestock judging portion of the competition. Club members visited the University of Delaware dairy farm and learned and practiced dairy cattle judging with Richard Morris, dairy manager at the UD farm, which Shakory called “a good experience and good practice.”

For the paper presentations, each team selected one team member to give a presentation. The two members from UD were West and Jessica Applebaum, a junior in CANR. West’s paper focused on “Antibiotic Resistance and the Transmission from Livestock to Human Consumption,” while Applebaum’s dealt with “Mastitis in Dairy Cattle,” an inflammation of the udders.

While the team is already looking forward to next year’s event at Rutgers, they also have their eye on eventually hosting the event at UD because, as West explained, “with the shorter travel distance it would cost less and we could take more than two teams. We would really love to bring NESA back to UD — it would be really fun to do all the behind the scenes planning.”

According to Sara Hobson, a CANR senior and vice president of the Animal Science Club who chaired this year’s NESA planning committee, the last time UD hosted the event was 1996.

About the Animal Science Club

For anyone interested in joining the Animal Science Club, it meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Room 107 of Sharp Laboratory.  While the majority in the club are Animal Science majors, that is not a pre-requisite to join as the club accepts students from all majors.

The club prides itself on providing a great opportunity for hands-on experience and involvement in the community. The club members volunteer at local farms and animal shelters, and they regularly have guest speakers from places like Carousel Farms come in to talk with the group about a variety of experiences.

Applebaum explained that she got involved with the club because, “I really want to go to vet school and I feel like the hands on experience would really help me and they bring in speakers from different places, like vet schools and animal organizations, and you also get to meet a lot of people on campus.”

The club’s advisers are Laura Nemec and Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

For more information on the Animal Science Club, visit their website or e-mail Jennifer West or Nina Lee, junior in CANR and secretary of the Animal Science Club.

Article by Adam Thomas

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Diamond combines military background with veterinary passion

February 8, 2012 under CANR News

Growing up in a military family, University of Delaware graduate Danielle Diamond always told her parents — specifically her father, who had a career in the Navy — that she would join ROTC if it weren’t for her love of animals and her interest in veterinary medicine. Now, as she serves as a military veterinarian stationed in England, Diamond gets to experience the best of both worlds.

Diamond, who graduated from UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2005, said she was first made aware of the opportunity to combine the two fields through the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program, which she discovered while attending the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

She said that the program is “a bit like the ROTC program.  I received a two-year scholarship and owed back three years of active duty service once I graduated.  I completed vet school, was commissioned as a captain in the United States Army and pretty much put a uniform on for the first time on June 1, 2009.”

Diamond is now serving as the officer in charge of the veterinary treatment facility at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Feltwell facility, and she explained that there are many facets to her job as a veterinarian in the military.

“Our primary concern is the military working dogs.  I oversee two kennels here with roughly 20 dogs.  We provide their routine and emergency care,” said Diamond, explaining that she also examines the animals that are owned by military personnel or retirees, administering preventive medicines to the animals — such as vaccines, flea and tick control — and spaying and neutering the animals.

Though her main focus is the military working dogs, Diamond helps out with food audits, as well, making sure the food and water that is distributed to the military base is safe to consume. She also works closely with the public health department to manage potential rabies cases, although she notes that the United Kingdom is considered “rabies-free.”

Because she works at “the only veterinary treatment facility in the U.K. for military members” other than pricey private practices, Diamond explained that she makes quarterly trips to three neighboring military bases to look at their animals. She and her staff also go to child development centers to monitor the health of their pets, and volunteer with scouting and school-age groups to “expand animal awareness and provide education.”

Of all her duties, Diamond said that working with the military working dogs is her favorite part of the job. “Those dogs are at the top of my priority list, 24/7.  When anything happens with one of those dogs, from vaccines to an emergency surgery, I’m the one who will be called in to handle it.”

Keeping the dogs in top physical form is key to their success, as Diamond explains that if a dog is sick or misses a routine veterinarian appointment, that dog is not going to work out as well or could even “miss out on the opportunity to deploy.”

Diamond said that watching the dogs work together as a team is “an awesome thing.  It’s especially rewarding when you see some of these young enlisted folks come in and take responsibility for their dog and work out the kinks in their performance.  Those dogs and their handlers save lives, and I want those dogs that are patrolling for drugs or explosives to be at their best physical being in order to keep our American military members safe at all times.”

In the end, Diamond says that what matters most to her is making sure that her patients stay healthy and alert. “It doesn’t matter if that dog’s job is making a small, safe base even safer or joining a Navy SEAL team to take down a bad guy like Osama Bin Laden — I want to be able to say I did the best job at keeping that dog healthy and capable of doing a great job.”

Time at UD

Before she even realized that she could combine her military background with her interest in veterinary medicine, Diamond was an undergraduate in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Diamond graduated from UD in 2005, with a bachelor of science degree in animal science, and a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine and minors in wildlife conservation and biological sciences.

Diamond was an active Ag Ambassador, a program with which she wanted to get involved after being shown around the campus by an ambassador when she visited UD as a high school student.

“When I came and interviewed at UD, I spent a day there with an Ag Ambassador and I got to go to some classes and spend some time out on the farm, and that kind of sealed the deal for me when I was going to visit schools, because it was such an interpersonal relationship and I really got to see the school and talk to somebody one on one,” Diamond said.

She added that once she became an Ag Ambassador, she was heavily involved with the program, “I did a lot of events when I was there. I think we had to do four events a semester and I think I did about 75 by the time I graduated.”

Besides the fond memories of working with Karen Aniunas, director in University Development and an instructor in CANR, and the Ag Ambassadors, Diamond recalls fondly traveling to New Zealand during a Winter Session study abroad trip with Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and working with Limin Kung, professor of animal and food sciences, in the Ruminant Nutrition Lab. “Dr. Kung took me on for a research lab position to earn some extra money, linked me up to a local large animal veterinarian to gain experience, and ultimately became my adviser and a good friend.”

She encourages current UD students to go out and get involved in both the campus and the community. “There are a ton of opportunities both on the campus as well as at your fingertips, as Delaware is a very agricultural state,” Diamond said. “It will benefit you, your school, and the community.”

Diamond does have one regret, however, and that is graduating before the UDairy Creamery opened for business.

“I just want to make it known that I’m a bitter alumni in that the UD Creamery opened after I had graduated!” Diamond joked, adding that she made the mistake of one day perusing the UDairy Creamery menu on the website and longed for a taste. “Guess I need to plan a visit back…”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article was originally published on UDaily

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University honors Griffiths, Louise, Fulbright and Salzburg Fellows

December 8, 2011 under CANR News

A reception celebrating University of Delaware global leaders capped off International Education Week (IEW) at the University on Nov. 18.

Matthew Robinson, director of the Institute for Global Studies (IGS) and professor of business administration, served as master of ceremonies at the event, which recognized Fulbright and Salzburg Fellows, as well as former IGS director Lesa Griffiths, and Janet Louise, an instructor at the English Language Institute (ELI) who will retire this June after 25 years of service.

James Magee, professor of political science and international relations, delivered the remarks honoring Griffiths, who returned to the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in August after serving as associate provost for international programs and IGS director for nearly 10 years.

During her tenure, Griffiths’ cultivated a reputation as a dedicated leader and “straight shooter,” said Magee, who has worked closely with Griffiths as faculty director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, MEPI helps students from the Middle East and North Africa gain more effective leadership skills as well as a more realistic understanding of American norms and institutions. The program, which has been funded at UD for the past eight years, also helps break down stereotypes of Arabs among the Americans with whom the students interact.

“Since the very first MEPI program, the Institute for Global Studies, under Lesa Griffiths’ leadership, has built a growing network of MEPI alumni and American participants who keep in touch with each other,” Magee said. “In Arab capitals and even in remote villages, there are MEPI alumni — and their families — with a deep affection for and a yearning to return to UD and Newark, Delaware.”

Ann Ardis, deputy dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, delivered the remarks honoring Janet Louise, noting that the veteran instructor of English as a Second Language at the ELI “aimed not simply to transform minds but to renew spirits.”

Ardis spoke of how Louise, a 25-year devotee of martial arts, had learned from tai chi how to stay calm and centered amid the storm of homesickness while working abroad for a number of years — and shared those lessons with her students struggling with the culture shock of coming to the U.S. and learning a new language. Louise also never hesitated to impart motherly advice, compassion and reassurance to her charges.

As one former student shared: “I would have given up and gone home long ago, had not Janet helped me through my darkest hours and helped me see the way to success.”

Sami Nassim, chair of the international caucus, reported that hundreds of people had attended each of the IEW events, from talks by distinguished international speakers to an international talent and fashion show.

Scott Stevens, ELI director, spoke of the increasing interest in multiculturalism among UD students, causing some events to be moved to larger venues this year and how the new locations this year also were packed.

Robinson thanked the ELI, Residence Life, and offices across the University for their support for IEW and said he looked forward to collaborating on other global events and activities.

As UD Deputy Provost Nancy Brickhouse pointed out, “International Education Week is more than a week-long endeavor at the University of Delaware, it is important and integral to the Path to Prominence and to the fabric of UD.”

Photo by Evan Krape

This article was originally published on UDaily

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UD Publishes new Global Magazine

January 19, 2011 under CANR News

UD Global is now introducing audiences in the United States and abroad to the University of Delaware’s growing international presence. Check out the publication online.

The magazine features an interview with Lesa Griffiths, professor of animal science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources who is UD’s  associate provost for international programs and the director of the Institute for Global Studies at UD.  The magazine also notes CANR’s collaboration with the United Nations (UN) International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), with headquarters near Hyderabad, India.

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