Winners announced for AVMA’s Spring Animal Welfare Assessment Contest

For more information Phone: 847-285-6687 Cell: 847-732-6194
For immediate release:

(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) April 25, 2024—The second annual spring virtual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC) took place April 20-21, with registrants from across North and South America completing assessments of the welfare of animals in multiple settings.

Participants included undergraduates, veterinary students, graduate students and AVMA member veterinarians. 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 2024 virtual contest scenarios included pet goldfish and cattle in mobile and small slaughter facilities.

The expert panel for this event included David Zarling, Jennifer Woods, and Drs. Megan Visger, Miriam Martin, Jessie Sanders, Emily Patterson-Kane, Sarahbeth Barlas, and Hugh Hammer.

Individual winners in the Undergraduate Junior Division were:

  • 1st place: Jacob Bazer, Rutgers University
  • 2nd place: Ava Swenson, University of Illinois
  • 3rd place: Grace Regier, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • 4th place: Lily Nuss, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • 5th place: Catherine Park, University of Illinois

Individual winners in the Undergraduate Senior Division were:

  • 1st place: Alli Matzek, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • 2nd place: Emma Hamilton, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • 3rd place: Beth McIlquham, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • 4th place: Mia Herrara, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • 5th place: Leo Phelps, Virginia Tech

Individual winners in the Graduate Division were:

  • 1st place: Brenna Braasch, The Ohio State University
  • 2nd place: Morgan Marquardt, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Individual winners in the Veterinary Division were:

  • 1st place: Mo Usavage, University of Minnesota
  • 2nd place: Shyanne Hall, University of Minnesota
  • 3rd place: Allison Hughes, University of Missouri
  • 4th place: Makayla Elliston, Oklahoma State University
  • 5th place: Kaylee Gladu, Tufts 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 eight 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 105,000 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.