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world veterinary year

World Veterinary Year Celebrates More than Just a Profession

In any large organization, it can be easy to overlook the contributions of individuals, each with unique stories and perspective. With this in mind, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was proud to mark the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession by offering a series of weekly blogs showcasing a different APHIS veterinarian each Thursday. Written in first person, the “world veterinary year” blogs share career paths - from dream to reality – and put a face on the sometimes overlooked aspects of 'on-the-ground' USDA employees. It is this creative use of social media to effectively showcase the rich personality of our workforce that makes this series our number 4 favorite new media moment.

Closing Thoughts on World Veterinary Year

World Veterinary Year, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession, culminated in the 30th World Veterinary Congress Closing Ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa in October. This year of recognition provided the opportunity to share the many contributions veterinarians have made in communities around the globe. There is much to celebrate. Over the last century, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and our animal health partners have made great strides in the control and eradication of animal diseases in the United States, diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis. Worldwide, we applaud the milestone reached with the stamping out of the deadly cattle disease, rinderpest, also known as cattle plague.

APHIS employs more than 700 veterinarians, many engaged in such disease eradication work. Over the past months, we have featured 25 APHIS veterinarians in this blog space. To share more of the vital work our veterinarians do, we’ve also created a video, soon to be available on our YouTube channel.

From Art Student to APHIS Veterinarian, Dr. Karen James-Preston on World Vet Year

Hello, I’m Dr. Karen James-Preston. I’m work for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, as Director of the Veterinary Services’ National Center for Import and Export, Animal Products. My staff and I work every day to make sure animal products are safely imported into the United States. We also work to facilitate the export of animal products to other countries. My job is fulfilling because I’m part of the team that’s protecting the domestic livestock and poultry population from disease, as well as helping our agriculture industry move products abroad.

My path to becoming a veterinarian was non-traditional, to say the least. My undergraduate degree is actually in Art Education. Even though my plan for college was math, I somehow ended up in the art department. While I was at Howard University, I got my first pet, a toy poodle named Oatmeal. After a while, my friends asked why I didn’t want to become a veterinarian… and I didn’t have a good answer. Now I wasn’t a great artist, so I decided to pursue a veterinary career. I needed additional science courses to get into vet school, but luckily I was able to take those classes at University of Maryland and get into the vet school at Tuskegee, Alabama.

Dr. Terry Morris on World Veterinary Year

Hello, I’m Dr. Terry Morris, a veterinarian with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Regulatory Support (VRS) staff, where I’m currently the acting Assistant Director.  I’m responsible for managing VRS’ 17 Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Veterinary Medical Officers that are strategically located throughout the United States, including ensuring that they have all of the necessary knowledge, equipment, supplies, and regulatory support necessary to effectively safeguard the U.S. from foreign plant and animal diseases at the local level.  I’ve been with USDA APHIS since 2001.  I started out in USDA’s Veterinary Services National Center for Import and Export program and then came over to the VRS staff in 2007.

How did I choose to become a veterinarian?  When I was in sixth grade, my dog died and my family was unable to afford any expenses associated with determining the cause of death.  I wanted to know why my dog died.  I took it upon myself to become a veterinarian, both to learn why and so that I could prevent other people’s pets from dying.

Information is Key for APHIS Veterinarian Dr. David Dargatz

Hello, I’m Dr. David Dargatz.  I work as an epidemiologist and beef cattle specialist for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health in Fort Collins, Colorado.  My work includes coordinating/conducting national studies of health and management practices on beef cattle operations as part of the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS).  I’ve been with APHIS since 1988.  In the past, I’ve also worked on NAHMS dairy and swine studies.

Like many other veterinarians, I became interested in veterinary medicine from exposure to the local practitioners in my home town.  My family had horses and needed the services of a veterinarian from time to time.  The two practitioners in the local clinic encouraged me to ride with them on calls and spend some time in the clinic to see what veterinary practice was like.  By the time I was halfway through high school, I knew this was the profession for me – it allowed me to combine my interests in horses and other livestock, science, and being outdoors.

Second Generation Veterinarian Weighs in on World Veterinary Year 2011

Hello, I am Dr. Rosslyn Biggs.  I am a Field Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO) with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services stationed in southwest Oklahoma.

My mother was also a veterinarian, so I was exposed to the profession at an early age.  She later worked as a VMO for USDA APHIS VS as well.   I always had an interest in veterinary medicine as a career because I liked the combination of animals and problem solving.  After veterinary school, I worked in a mixed animal practice for approximately three years before joining the staff at APHIS in the spring of 2007.

APHIS Veterinarian Dr. Larry Ludemann Shares His Experiences Overseas

Hello, I’m Dr. Larry Ludemann and I’m a Senior Staff Veterinarian for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).  It’s our job to make sure veterinary biologics, including vaccines, are safe, pure, potent and effective.

My duties include reviewing and licensing veterinary vaccines.   Manufacturers looking for approval on a vaccine are required to submit supporting data and reports about the vaccine for analysis.  I am responsible for writing a response to this submitted information.  Before taking my current position, I also spent 13 years in the CVB testing lab.

Everyday is a Learning Opportunity for APHIS Veterinarian

Hello, I’m Dr. Suelee Robbe Austerman.  I work at USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. 

Agriculture has always been my first love.  I grew up on a ranch, but like many girls of my generation, there were limited opportunities to become part of the operation.  During college, I fell in love with veterinary medicine – as I could combine my interests in agriculture and science.  I spent my first six years out of vet school in large animal practice in South Dakota.  Then, I taught food supply veterinary medicine at Iowa State while working on my Masters and PhD.  While working on my PhD, I joined USDA’s Agriculture Research Service working on Johne’s disease.

Dr. Sunny Geiser Reflects on her Career at APHIS for World Veterinary Year

Hi, I’m Dr. Sunny Geiser and I’m in the Area Veterinarian in Charge (AVIC) trainee program in USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Western Region.  I’m currently stationed in Fort Collins, CO.

I grew up with horses and livestock and always enjoyed working with them.  The medical aspect of their care fascinated me, so I decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.  After vet school, I worked in both private practice and state regulatory medicine before joining APHIS.  There’s a broader role to regulatory medicine and it feels like you are doing a greater service.

In the Lab, Dr. Beverly Schmitt Makes it Happen

I’m Dr. Beverly Schmitt.  I work for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, where I’m the Director of the Diagnostic Virology Lab (DVL).  I’ve been with NVSL for 19 years.  Before I came to APHIS, I served as the virology lab manager at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

Becoming a veterinarian was a gradual process for me.  When I was growing up, there was a vet who routinely came to our family farm.  I respected the work he did and liked working with animals, so I eventually looked into becoming a veterinary technician, and then made the decision to try to get into veterinary school.