Winners announced for AVMA's first Spring Animal Welfare Assessment Contest

For more information Phone: 847-285-6687 Cell: 847-732-6194
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(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) April 27, 2023—The inaugural spring virtual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC) took place April 22-23, with registrants from across North America, South America and Europe completing assessments of the welfare of animals in multiple settings.

Participants included undergraduates, veterinary students, graduate students, AVMA member veterinarians and postgraduates. This virtual event, offered in addition to the annual fall AWJAC, was designed to provide instruction in ethical reasoning, encourage objective assessment of animal welfare on the basis of scientific theory and data, promote critical thinking, and improve participants' communication skills. Participants were afforded a structured opportunity to practice their assessment skills and present their findings to expert scientists and veterinarians in a logical and persuasive manner.

Species covered in the 2023 virtual contest scenarios included potbellied pigs and broiler breeder chickens.

The expert panel for this event included Drs. Brandon Armwood, Sara Reichelt, Oluwaseun Serah Iyasere, Richard Blatchford, Michael Senn, Carly O'Malley, Thiago Bernardino and Madonna Benjamin.

Individual winners in the Undergraduate Junior Division were:

  • 1st place: Christina Adams, The Ohio State University
  • 2nd place: Chloe Creque, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd place: Megan Hohman, The Ohio State University
  • 4th place: Brenna Dowden, Colorado State University
  • 5th place: Dominic Doxsey, The Ohio State University

Individual winners in the Undergraduate Senior Division were:

  • 1st place: Jo Smeby, Colorado State University
  • 2nd place: Elizabeth Schafer, The Ohio State University
  • 3rd place: Jessie Bouterse, The Ohio State University
  • 4th place: Brianna Strayer, The Ohio State University
  • 5th place: Emily Morris, The Ohio State University

Individual winners in the Graduate Division were:

  • 1st place: Brenna Braasch, The Ohio State University
  • 2nd place: Samantha Hartwig, University of Guelph
  • 3rd place: Kendra Gillett, University of Guelph
  • 4th place: Harrison Vener, University of Pennsylvania
  • 5th place: Kelsey Lambert, University of Pennsylvania

Individual winners in the Veterinary Division were:

  • 1st place: Rachel Hirota, University of California-Davis
  • 2nd place: Yvonne Dimagiba, Oregon State University

The Animal Welfare Assessment Contest was founded at Michigan State University in 2001 as the Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest and was modeled after traditional livestock, horse and meat judging competitions. Merck Animal Health, lead educational funder for the past seven years, provides support to ensure today's Animal Welfare Assessment Contest continues to bring students together from across the United States and internationally.

To learn more about the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, visit

For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell/text) or msanfilippoatavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).

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.