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The Student Edition

Students have become enthusiastic fixtures of the US Animal Health Association’s Annual Meeting, and thanks to the dedication of several groups and individuals, student engagement has increased steadily each year. Given the professional development and networking opportunities that USAHA provides, it comes as no surprise that students across the country are taking notice of the benefits of USAHA involvement. This edition of your newsletter is devoted to the members who have made the student scholarship program a success and to the students who, with the help of USAHA, are evolving into our colleagues of tomorrow.

The Member Behind It All…
Dr. Valerie Ragan, Director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medi cine (CPCVM), Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, has been at the helm of the student scholarship program since its inception in 2011. Dr. Ragan recognized early on the merits of infusing fresh perspectives into a well-established organization and has been a passionate advocate for student involvement in USAHA. Her can-do attitude is contagious, and her efforts have supported impressive statistics. Since 2011, 125 students from 27 colleges of veterinary medicine have attended the USAHA Annual Meeting on scholarships coordinated by Dr. Ragan. Some students have returned multiple times, and Dr. Ragan even arrived at the 2010 USAHA meeting with four students in tow on their own dime before the CPCVM program got off the ground!
The 2019 Providence meeting was one of the best yet; 16 students from 12 US veterinary colleges attended USAHA committee meetings, enjoyed a luncheon in their honor, networked with future colleagues and shared their expertise with fellow student attendees. Here is what some of our burgeoning colleagues had to say about their meeting experience:

“As a student, I felt very supported, and it made me excited for a future career in public service. Hearing everyone's career path and what their job responsibilities are is important for students because we get limited exposure to this area of veterinary medicine while in school. This experience has encouraged me to pursue externships with USDA-APHIS and CDC, and I was able to network with many veterinarians working for these organizations.”

“The networking opportunity and the immersion into the scientific community was something I had not previously felt, and I greatly appreciate the experience.”

“It was an amazing experience and I will definitely be returning next year!”

Thank you to Dr. Ragan and the following groups/organizations for their support of the CPCVM student scholarship program:
  • USAHA, in collaboration with member organizations
  • USAHA regional organizations: WSLHA; SAHA; NEUSAHA; NCUSAHA
  • Trace First, Inc.
  • The Grits Mafia

Grits, Anyone?
You won’t find the Grits Mafia on Wikipedia, but this group has made giving back to USAHA a priority, to the benefit of many students. Here is their story… 
In the early 2000s, USAHA past president Dr. Ernie Zirkle, retired as the NJ state veterinarian. A retirement party was warranted, and a full weekend was needed to appropriately honor his years of service. In attendance were many state veterinary colleagues, most of whom represented the southern states and held prominent leadership positions in USAHA. This inaugural gathering was such a hit that the group decided to gather the following year, regardless of retirement plans! Reunions have been held every year since in rotating locations thanks to the hosting generosity of various USAHA members and the camaraderie of this tight-knit group of
colleagues and friends. Realizing that every strong tradition deserves a great name, the group chose the name “Grits Mafia” to brand their career-spanning friendships and to reflect the prominent positions many held in their respective southern states and within USAHA. A number of years ago, Grits Mafia member Don Notter (KY) passed away, and the group chipped in and established a scholarship fund in his memory to support student attendance at the USAHA Annual Meeting. The original monetary balance, supplemented by the Notter family, has long since been expended, but the Grits Mafia reunions still happen annually, and members continue to support student involvement in our organization!
Going Green, and Paying it Forward
In 2018, the owners and managers of Trace First implemented a change, and USAHA is a benefactor of their ingenuity. Everyone loves receiving holiday well wishes from friends and colleagues, but nowadays, there are economical, low-impact ways of letting people know they are remembered during the holidays. In 2019, Trace First made the switch from sending paper holiday cards to their customers to sharing greetings in an electronic format. They reallocated the money saved into a monetary contribution to the CPCVM scholarship fund. In 2019, Trace First supported one student’s attendance at the USAHA meeting and enabled a second student to attend the proceedings of AAVLD, our sister organization with which the Annual Meeting is held jointly each year. This was the inaugural year of a great tradition, and Trace First is planning the same for 2020 and beyond. Thank you, Trace First, and next time you receive an electronic holiday greeting from this company, enjoy it with the knowledge that they are supporting the next generation of public servants in animal agriculture!
Larger than Life
This is a phrase that the colleagues and friends of Dr. Guy Hohenhaus have heard and used numerous times to describe our friend’s presence in meetings and at social gatherings. We still do. Dr. Hohenhaus wore many professional hats before he passed away in June of 2018, but perhaps his most prominent and admirable philosophy (he had many!) was the promotion and education of veterinary students interested in pursuing careers in regulatory medicine, veterinary public practice, or public health. It seems fitting, then, that one of Guy’s closest friends and colleagues, Dr. Heather Hirst (DE), partnered with Guy’s widow, Michelle, and Cornell University to develop the Guy S. Hohenhaus Veterinary Student Travel Scholarship. This competitive scholarship has supported student attendance at the joint USAHA/AAVLD Annual Meeting for the past two years, and plans are in place to continue this into the future. Guy’s legacy lives on in USAHA through these generous gifts, and it is rewarding to see the recipient students smile when they are told the stories of their scholarship namesake. Guy would be proud!
How Can You Help?
There are certainly unique stories behind many of the student scholarships that USAHA is honored to support. While monetary support is always welcomed, there are other ways that we as USAHA members can positively impact the next generation of professional colleagues. Here are some ideas for you to consider if you are feeling philanthropic:
  •  Make a point to engage with at least one student at the Annual Meeting. Share what you do, what you like about it, what you wish was different and what you would change if you had the luxury of a do-over. Students attending the Annual Meeting value the interaction with professionals in the “real world”. Making that personal connection could influence a student’s career decisions in ways that are not realized until well after the meeting closes. Sharing your experiences is an easy way to pay it forward!
  • Those of you involved with USAHA district meeting agenda development may consider reaching out to your regional veterinary colleges and land grant institutions with a specific meeting invitation to students. Consider focusing a segment of your meeting agenda on student or workforce development issues or make a block available for student presentations in exchange for a reduced or waived meeting registration fee. Students may find regional meeting attendance easier and more pertinent as compared to traveling to the Annual Meeting.
  • Consider serving as a mentor at the 2020 Annual Meeting. This contribution is a great way to help novice meeting attendees, including students, make the most of their meeting experience. Look for the opt-in check box on the 2020 meeting registration form!
If you would like to support the CPCVM or a USAHA regional scholarship program with a monetary donation, please contact your USAHA district leaders for more information. To donate to the Guy S. Hohenhaus Veterinary Student Travel Scholarship, make a credit card payment by calling Diane K. TenKate at 607-253-3722. Alternatively, you may remit a check made payable to Northeast USAHA to:
Cornell University, CVM
Attn: Diane TenKate
Accounting Service Center
S3-007 Schurman Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Please remember to write “Guy’s fund” on the check to ensure proper routing.
Thank you for your support of USAHA’s next generation!
Welcome New Members!
  • Cassandra Guarino - Cornell University
  • Sara Crawford - National Pork Board
  • Joseph Menicucci – Colorado Dept of Agriculture
  • Joy Bennett - New York State Dept of Agriculture/Markets
  • Linda Gonzales - Arizona Dept of Agriculture
  • Brian Hoefs - Minnesota Board of Animal Health
  • Jane Lewis - New York State Dept of Agriculture/Markets
  • David Luedeke – Hygiena
  • Hope Martin - Mississippi Dept of Agriculture
  • Nevil Speer – Where Food Comes From, Inc.
  • Amanda Goslee - Auburn University
  • Kimberly Hencken - University of North Texas
  • Naga Venkata Sabarinath Neerukonda - University of Delaware
  • Antonia Langfeldt - Michigan State University
  • Madison Durflinger - Iowa State University
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