Adapted from an American Veterinary Medical Association news release
A Colorado State University undergraduate took top honors at the 20th annual American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, hosted virtually in November by the AVMA and North Carolina State University.
Second-year College of Agricultural Sciences student Jordan Smeby took first place in the Undergraduate Junior Division. Smeby is majoring in equine science and agricultural education teacher development, and throughout the semester worked on a team putting together a scientifically based reference guide on animal welfare.
A total of 176 participants represented 32 universities and seven countries in the contest. Participants, including undergraduates, graduate students, veterinary students and AVMA member veterinarians, completed online assessments of the welfare of animals in different settings. They 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.
The competition featured case studies around two species: cheetahs in captivity, and turkeys. Competitors compared two sets of facilities for each species, chose which one exhibited better welfare for the animals, and defended their choices via three-minute presentations.
The contest also included talks 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.
“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 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.”
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. 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.