20th annual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest announces winners

Published on November 24, 2020
Student surrounded by scenes related to the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC)

Congratulations to the winners of the 20th annual AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC)! More than 175 participants representing 32 universities and seven countries took part in this year’s competition, which was hosted virtually by the AVMA and North Carolina State University last weekend.

This year, the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest gave undergraduates, graduate students, veterinary students, AVMA member veterinarians, and members of foreign veterinary medical associations the opportunity to virtually assess the welfare of two captive animal species based on multiple aspects of their lives. Species covered in the 2020 contest included cheetahs in captivity and domesticated turkeys. Each year, these exercises teach participants about the range of factors that must be considered when assessing animals’ welfare, as well as demonstrate the value of respectful discussion.

There were also presentations on animal welfare in undergraduate education, graduate education, veterinary schools, and veterinary residency programs, as well as an overview of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its impact on animal welfare. And, for the first time, contest participants were able to earn up to 5 hours of continuing education (CE) credit for participating. Another highlight of this year’s contest was the virtual networking reception, which allowed participants the opportunity to meet with animal welfare experts from academia, industry, and clinical practice.

Participants regularly come away from this experience with a heightened awareness of animal welfare science, enhanced communication and reasoning skills, and an expanded professional network. In addition to the personal development of participants, the contest ensures that tomorrow’s animal industry leaders not only have an enhanced knowledge of animal welfare, but also the ability to effectively communicate and share information. Thank you to everyone who took part this year!

Undergraduate Junior Division winners
  • 1st—Jordan Smeby, Colorado State University
  • 2nd—Tatiana Thomas, Michigan State University
  • 3rd—Zoey Witruk, University of Illinois
  • 4th—Addie Cullum, Purdue University
  • 5th—Madison Pinkerton, The Ohio State University
Undergraduate Senior Division winners
  • 1st—Liz Patton, University of Minnesota
  • 2nd—Brietta Latham, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd—Chaya Gangsei, University of Minnesota
  • 4th—Ashley Dunn, Michigan State University
  • 5th (tie)—Kaitlin Reiman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 5th (tie)—Xandra Meneses, Texas A&M University 
Graduate Division winners
  • 1st—Madeline Winans, The Ohio State University
  • 2nd—Shannon Kelley, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd—Alisa Light, Texas A&M University
  • 4th—Gabrielle House, Texas A&M University
  • 5th—Rachel Park, North Carolina State University
Veterinary Division winners
  • 1st—Karen Yetman, Atlantic Veterinary College
  • 2nd—Michelle Greenfield, Cornell University
  • 3rd—Julia Rose, The Ohio State University
  • 4th—Lauren Bowers, Ontario Veterinary College
  • 5th—Olivia Child, Michigan State University

The AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest is funded in part through an educational grant from Merck Animal Health.


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