Winners announced for 2020 AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest

For more information Phone: 847-285-6687 Cell: 847-732-6194
For immediate release: 11/24/2020

SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) November 24, 2020—The 20th annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC), virtually hosted by the AVMA and North Carolina State University, took place this past weekend with 176 participants representing 32 universities and seven countries completing online assessments of the welfare of animals in different settings.

Participants included undergraduates, graduate students, veterinary students, AVMA member veterinarians and members of international veterinary medical associations, who were provided a structured opportunity to practice their assessment skills and present their findings to an expert panel of scientists and veterinarians with special expertise in animal welfare. Species covered in the 2020 contest included cheetahs in captivity and domesticated turkeys.

The contest also 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 the opportunity for participants to meet with animal welfare experts working in industry, academia, clinical practice and not-for-profit organizations. For the first time, AWJAC participants were able to earn up to 5 hours of continuing education credit for participating.

Winners in the Undergraduate Junior Division were:

  • 1st place Jordan Smeby, Colorado State University
  • 2nd place Tatiana Thomas, Michigan State University
  • 3rd place Zoey Witruk, University of Illinois
  • 4th place Addie Cullum, Purdue University
  • 5th place Madison Pinkerton, The Ohio State University

Winners in the Undergraduate Senior Division were:

  • 1st place—Liz Patton, University of Minnesota
  • 2nd place—Brietta Latham, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd place—Chaya Gangsei, University of Minnesota
  • 4th place—Ashley Dunn, Michigan State University
  • 5th place (tie)—Kaitlin Reiman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 5th place (tie)—Xandra Meneses, Texas A&M University 

Winners in the Graduate Division were:

  • 1st place—Madeline Winans, The Ohio State University
  • 2nd place—Shannon Kelley, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd place—Alisa Light, Texas A&M University
  • 4th place—Gabrielle House, Texas A&M University
  • 5th place—Rachel Park, North Carolina State University

Winners in the Veterinary Division were:

  • 1st place—Karen Yetman, Atlantic Veterinary College
  • 2nd place—Michelle Greenfield, Cornell University
  • 3rd place—Julia Rose, The Ohio State University
  • 4th place—Lauren Bowers, Ontario Veterinary College
  • 5th place—Olivia Child, Michigan 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,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA. “For the past twenty 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. 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 Animal Welfare Assessment Contest was founded at Michigan State University in 2001 as the Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) and was modeled after traditional livestock, horse and meat judging competitions. 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.

To learn more about the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, visit

About the AVMA

Serving more than 100,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.