The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association (DCHA) selected Rachel O’Leary, Janesville, Wis.; and Marina Sweet, London, Ohio; as this year’s Higher Education Scholarship recipients. The $1,000 scholarships recognize outstanding students pursuing a degree in agriculture.
O’Leary seeks production animal clinic position focused on dairy cattle
O’Leary, a third-year veterinary medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, earned her bachelor’s degree in dairy science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Upon graduation from veterinary school, O’Leary plans to work in a production animal clinic with mostly dairy cattle. Due to her strong interest in food animal medicine, she took elective courses, such as advanced dairy nutrition, hoof trimming and large animal diagnostic imaging, to strengthen her skills. O’Leary earned a Certificate of Achievement for Lab Techniques in Mammalian Gamete and Embryo Biology.
“The most influential course I have taken is the bovine embryo transfer (ET) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) class,” said O’Leary. “Through this course, I became certified in the techniques needed to be efficient and effective in ET and IVF. I hope to utilize the skills I gained in my future career to help producers achieve the next level of reproductive success for their farm. It will be through these extra courses I have taken and courses I will take in my clinical year that will allow me to better serve my future clients and help agriculture continue in its successful legacy.”
At UW-River Falls, O’Leary worked as a research assistant. All the research projects involved dairy calves. As a veterinary student, she held externships with Parker Veterinary Clinic, Parker, S.D.; Clear Lake Veterinary Clinic, Clear Lake, S.D.; and Brodhead Veterinary Medical Center, Brodhead, Wis. O’Leary served as an animal health intern for the 2016 and 2017 Wisconsin State Fairs.
Sweet headed to Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine
Sweet will graduate in May from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences. This fall, she embarks on her journey to become a food animal veterinarian by enrolling in Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Until the age of 10, Sweet resided in a Detroit suburb. Her family’s move to rural Ohio sparked her passion for livestock, particularly dairy cattle. A local dairy farmer leased heifers to Sweet so she could participate in the 4-H dairy project.
Sweet’s 4-H dairy project experiences went beyond the showring. During the summer of 2015, she milked cows on a small dairy farm. She also vaccinated cattle, administered IV fluids, practiced palpation, pulled calves, observed displaced abomasum corrective surgeries and administered propylene glycol to ketotic cows. “Observing the veterinarians who came for herd checks also gave me insight to the life of a food animal veterinarian, which solidified my career goals,” she said.
The following summer, Sweet interned at Hall’s Calf Ranch in Kewaunee, Wis., where her job revolved around the care of 8,000 replacement heifer and bull calves, along with a research project to observe the effects of a metabolizable protein on calf growth rate. “This internship sparked my more specific passion of calf health and management,” she said.
Last summer, Sweet interned at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles, Mont. Her responsibilities included collecting, diluting and extending semen, and evaluating sperm morphology. She also collected and centrifuged blood samples, and removed serum.
Typically, DCHA presents one scholarship annually. Due to the generosity of several DCHA board members, the association awarded two scholarships this year.
The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (www.calfandheifer.org) was founded in 1996 based on the mission to help dairy producers, calf managers and those professionally focused on the growth and management of dairy calves and heifers. With a national membership of producers, allied industries and research leaders, DCHA seeks to provide the industry’s standards for profitability, performance and leadership, serving as a catalyst to help members improve the vitality and viability of their individual efforts and that of their business.