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January 15, 2021

Animal welfare assessment contest goes virtual

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Nearly 180 individuals representing 32 universities and seven countries participated in the 20th annual AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, hosted virtually by the AVMA and North Carolina State University, Nov. 20-21, 2020.

The contest is modeled after traditional livestock, horse, and meat judging competitions. Student contestants evaluated scenarios involving animal species and then presented their findings to an expert animal scientist or veterinarian from the panel of judges. Species covered in the latest contest included captive cheetahs and domesticated turkeys.

The virtual event included presentations on animal welfare in undergraduate education, graduate education, veterinary schools, and veterinary residency programs, as well as an overview of how attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion can have positive impacts on animal welfare.

A virtual networking reception provided participants the opportunity to meet with animal welfare experts working in industry, academia, clinical practice, and nonprofit organizations. For the first time, participants could earn up to five hours of continuing education credit.

Collage of 2020 AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest participants and animal species

Winners of the 2020 contest are as follows:

Veterinary Division: First place—Karen Yetman, University of Prince Edward Island; second place—Michelle Greenfield, Cornell University; third place—Julia Rose, The Ohio State University; fourth place—Lauren Bowers, University of Guelph; and fifth place—Olivia Child, Michigan State University.

Graduate Division: First place—Madeline Winans, The Ohio State University; second place—Shannon Kelley, The Ohio State University; third place—Alisa Light, Texas A&M University; fourth place—Gabrielle House, Texas A&M University; and fifth place—Rachel Park, North Carolina State University.

Undergraduate, Senior Division: First place—Liz Patton, University of Minnesota; second place—Brietta Latham, The Ohio State University; third place—Chaya Gangsei, University of Minnesota; fourth place—Ashley Dunn, Michigan State University; fifth place (tie)—Kaitlin Reiman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Xandra Meneses, Texas A&M University.

Undergraduate, Junior Division: First place—Jordan Smeby, Colorado State University; second place—Tatiana Thomas, Michigan State University; third place—Zoey Witruk, University of Illinois; fourth place—Addie Cullum, Purdue University; and fifth place—Madison Pinkerton, The Ohio State University.

“One of the AVMA’s key responsibilities is to help the next generation of veterinarians make informed decisions that protect and enhance the welfare of all animals, and the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest helps us do just that,” AVMA President Douglas Kratt said.

“For the past 20 years, this event has helped tomorrow’s leaders in veterinary medicine and animal science acquire an enhanced knowledge of animal welfare and develop their communication skills so they can effectively share that knowledge with others,” Dr. Kratt said. “Through their research, preparation, and participation in this event and the connections they’ve made over this weekend, Animal Welfare Assessment Contest participants have reinforced their commitment to the study of animal welfare and helped to position themselves as future leaders in the field.”

The contest was founded at Michigan State University in 2001 as the Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest. Funded in part through an educational grant from Merck Animal Health, today’s Animal Welfare Assessment Contest brings students together from across the United States and internationally.