As many of you know, earlier this year I wrote a children’s book, titled, "Can-Do Cowkids," which was published by the Georgia Beef Board and illustrated by Michelle Weber. The book highlights the many people who help get beef from pasture to plate, including ranchers, stockers, feeders, nutritionists, etc.
One of my favorite pages in the book is the inclusion of a veterinarian. Our five-year old daughter, Scarlett, dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day, so the illustration in the book reflects a female veterinarian for her to aspire to.
It doesn’t matter whether or not she actually becomes a veterinarian one day, but I’m thankful that on our ranch, we have a strong team of men and women veterinarians who help ensure our cattle are healthy through proper protocols, management strategies and a solid vaccination program.
While our community is blessed with a long list of practicing veterinarians, each having their own individual skillsets for us to utilize, some rural communities are struggling to recruit and retain veterinarians.
This challenge is made worse by the crushing student debt that veterinarians must endure to pursue a career. In fact, the average debt of a veterinary student was $166,714 in 2017.
I was recently alerted to an organization that seeks to remedy some of the financial obstacles facing large animal veterinarians today. The American Bovine Foundation is on a mission to improve large animal husbandry, genetics and health by increasing the number and availability or rural practitioners in cattle-raising areas of the United States.
According to the organization, “We further wish to help provide education to high school and college students through the support of scholarships, grants and continuing education, with an ultimate goal to support the progression of bovine and/or large animal science through the research of genetics by means of satellite research facilities.”
The American Bovine Federation explains that the number of new large animal veterinarian practitioners has been declining over the last 25 years as students pursue equine and small animal health careers.
However, because of advancements in selective breeding through embryonic science, the need for these specialists for livestock producers is greater than ever.
So, what specifically is the American Bovine Foundation doing to remedy these challenges and help young people take advantage of opportunities in the field of large animal veterinary medicine?
The Mississippi-based foundation was created to operate as a non-profit organization for the financial benefit of veterinarian students, encouraging the next generation of large animal practices and training the next generation for improving cattle genetics.
This year, the foundation will award one $50,000 grant to a graduating senior from each of the nation’s 31 veterinary schools. The foundation also will present $58,000 in scholarships to high school students through speech contest and internship programs. A total of $2,658,000 in grants and scholarships will be presented annually to those students chosen as recipients.
To accomplish this, the foundation has put together a sweepstakes that features 100 superior donor heifers from the top registered cattle producers in the United States.
“For a $50 tax deductible donation, you receive a confirmation email with an electronically registered ticket, making you eligible for an opportunity to own a once-in-a-lifetime donor female,” said Wallace Danos, American Bovine Foundation vice president. “The heifer could possibly change the direction of your personal program and seedstock portfolio forever. Only 1,000 opportunities at $50 each will be offered on each individual heifer, totaling $50,000 in donations per individual heifer to the American Bovine Foundation. Our goal is to contribute $1,550,000 annually to 31 individual universities. Through your generous donation, we can achieve our goals in preserving our rural veterinarians.”
To learn more about the sweepstakes or to check out the mission of the foundation, click here.
I think anything we can do to help the next generation of bovine veterinary practitioners is beneficial to all of us. A shortage of good veterinarians in rural areas continues to be an ongoing challenge for ranchers, and I think the American Bovine Foundation has found a way to address this issue moving forward.
On that note, if you wish to support this effort further, the American Bovine Foundation is hosting its inaugural Gala and Expo at the Brazos County Expo in Bryan, Texas, on Sept. 7-8. The event will include supreme heifers on exhibit, a trade show, dinner, live auction and dancing with music by Austin Allsup and Randy Brown.
For tickets and information, visit www.americanbovinefoundation.org or call 622-4-BOVINE. That’s 622-426-8463.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.