A record 218 people participated in the 18th Annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, including 145 competitors representing 22 universities from the United States, Canada and Italy.
The contest, held Nov. 16-18 at Colorado State University, provided the opportunity for undergraduates, graduate students, veterinary students and AVMA member veterinarians to participate in live and computer-based assessments of the welfare of animals in a variety of settings. Participants were evaluated on their decisions and by how well they presented and justified their positions to a team of judges. Species covered in this year's contest included dairy goats, egg-laying ducks, green iguanas and polo ponies.
Winners in the Undergraduate Division included Madisen Baldwin, University of Kentucky, for Live Assessment High Scoring Individual; University of Minnesota-Maroon, for Live Assessment High Scoring Team; Zach England, Ohio State University, for 1st Place Overall Individual; and University of Minnesota-Maroon, for 1st Place Overall Team.
Winners in the Graduate Division included Melissa Cantor, University of Kentucky, for Live Assessment High Scoring Individual; Michigan State University, for Live Assessment High Scoring Team; Quinn Rausch, University of Guelph, for 1st Place Overall Individual; and University of Guelph, for 1st Place Overall Team.
Winners in the Veterinary Division included Cassandra Kroncke, Kansas State University, for Live Assessment High Scoring Individual; Ohio State University, for Live Assessment High Scoring Team; Jenny Schefski, Colorado State University, for 1st Place Overall Individual; and Ohio State University, for 1st Place Overall Team.
"Congratulations are due not only to this year's winners, but to all of the participants who made this year's competition the largest yet," said Dr. John de Jong, president of the AVMA. "It's wonderful to see so many students and veterinarians participate in an event that's so important to the recognition and advancement of animal welfare in the veterinary profession and in our society. The knowledge, connections, and skills gained over the course of the contest will benefit the participants and the animals they treat for a lifetime."
Founded at Michigan State University in 2001, the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest--also known as AWJAC, for the acronym by which it was formerly known (Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest)--was modeled on traditional livestock, horse and meat judging competitions to encourage students to learn about welfare while competing with students from universities across North America. The competition teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning.
The contest, which benefits from funding and other support through program partner Merck Animal Health, ensures that tomorrow's animal industry leaders develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare.
"As animal caretakers, we all strive for the betterment of animal welfare," said Dr. Angela Baysinger, Animal Welfare Lead for Merck Animal Health's North America Veterinary & Consumer Affairs Team. "It is very evident that the students and veterinarians participating in the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest exemplify that desire for animals to have not only good welfare but a life worth living. Merck Animal Health is proud to support this amazing event."
To learn more about the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, visit AWJAC.org.
For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA senior media relations specialist, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell) or msanfilippoavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).