February 01, 2017


 Contest challenges students’ welfare knowledge

Posted Jan. 19, 2017

More than 100 students representing 15 universities participated in the 16th annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest, Nov. 12-13, 2016, hosted by The Ohio State University.

Individual and team competitors in the AVMA- and Student AVMA–supported contest must analyze the welfare of animals presented in comparative scenarios, determine whether the animals’ welfare in one scenario is better or worse than in the other, and then explain their decisions to a panel of judges. 

Students evaluate the housing conditions for layer hens kept at The Ohio State University’s poultry facility. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

In 2016, students virtually assessed the welfare of meat sheep, guinea pigs, and purebred dogs purchased from breeders and assessed the welfare of laying hens in person by traveling to Ohio State’s poultry facility.    

Along with demonstrating the welfare needs of a range of species, the competition gives veterinary, undergraduate, and graduate students the opportunity to develop critical thinking and oral presentation skills. Enhanced knowledge of animal welfare, a strong analytic mindset, and well-honed communication skills are valuable takeaways that serve AWJAC participants throughout their education and careers. Results of the 2016 contest are as follows:

Veterinary Student Section: First place—Rachel Baumgardner, Michigan State University; second place—Angela Varnum, Colorado State University; third place—Louana Cheung, Colorado State University. Undergraduate Section First place—Nevere Hammond, University of British Columbia; second place—Julia Rose, The Ohio State University; third place—Heather Pechtl, The Ohio State University. Graduate section: First place—Mariam Martin, Colorado State University; second place—Caroline von Waldburg-Zeil, University of Guelph; third place—Rachel West, Colorado State University.

Team Live Assessment Exercise, Veterinary Student Section: Iowa State University. Undergraduate Section: University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Graduate Section: Iowa State University. Individual Veterinary Student Live Assessment Exercise: Victoria Blake, University of Pennsylvania.

Overall Team Placing, Veterinary Student Section: First place—Colorado State University; second place—The Ohio State University; third place—Michigan State University. Undergraduate Section: First place—University of British Columbia; second place—University of Guelph; third place—The Ohio State University. Graduate Section: First place—Colorado State University; second place—University of Guelph; third place—Iowa State University. 

The 2017 Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest will be held Nov. 18-19 at Iowa State University. Details will be posted here.