Career Day–Future Animal Scientists?

sophomore students attending a career day session on animal scienceRecently, hubby and I spent the day talking to high school sophomores about careers in animal science. We both have advanced degrees in this field (masters degree in ruminant nutrition) but our personalities and preferences have taken us to very different jobs. This makes us uniquely qualified to talk to students about the wide variety of paths open in animal science.

I am curious about the young people we meet for 30 minutes. We have done this for several years, and average around 70 or 80 kids in our sessions each year. Do we help any of these young people to choose a career in animal science? I hope so, we definitely can use more animal scientists.

Every year, we have a large number of students who expect to go into the veterinary or vet-tech field. As many as 10% of our class attendees want to be veterinarians. A significant number of others want to be veterinary assistants (vet techs). I am all for this development. We NEED more veterinarians and assistants. There is a critical shortage of food animal vets (cattle, pigs, chickens, dairy, sheep/goals, etc.)

sophomore students attending career days animal science sessionsThere is also a surprising number of students in our sessions that want to pursue careers as marine biologists. There aren’t many oceans in Nebraska, but I have to admit that a career that involves looking at the water every day would be appealing.

After that, we get a wide variety of interests. Quite a few are interested in careers in the horse industry. Many are looking at farming or ranching. A large number are interested in wildlife management or working in a zoo. There was even one student that wanted to raise rodeo stock. Occasionally, we have someone interested in dairy (although we need many more of them!)

It is fun to work through the career options and help the kids see connections between animal science and other areas. We draw the lines to food science and microbiology, accounting and business management, human resources, law and regulations, grazing and crops, engineering, genetics and biotechnology, education and extension and many others. We also emphasize the importance of math and science in any of these areas.

For readers that are connected to animal science, what are some important points you think we should include in next year’s presentation?

For readers who do not work in this area, do you have questions about animal production or animal science? I know there are many with a negative view toward many types of animal agriculture and I would be happy to talk about some of the reasons and methods behind different systems. Fire away!

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About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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