As the first AASV student intern, I was asked to write the message for JSHAP. With great anxiety I accepted the invitation and then spent the next 4 weeks hoping to be struck with creativity. No such luck. As the final days of my stay drew to an end, I completed each of my projects except one: the intern message. So here I am in the second-to-last day of my time in Perry, Iowa, putting my thoughts into a cohesive article.
I did wait for a beautiful day here in Perry-dise – not a cloud in the sky as I look out my office window. I can thank Dr Harry Snelson for this “Perry-dise” caption, as he amped me up about my time in Perry by informing me of its location between Jamaica and Madrid (check an Iowa map and you’ll see that it’s true). Of course, I did not find myself on a white sandy beach this summer, but I did find myself in the heart of hog country, and for me that is close enough to paradise.
As many of you know, California does not have many pigs to speak of, yet I find myself working towards a career as a swine veterinarian. My passion and love for the swine industry were not new to me this summer, but were definitely refined during my 8 weeks in the nation’s largest swine-producing state. Iowa brings so much more than pigs, though; there is a sense of community, family pride, and a whole lot of corn!
Upon my reflection this week as I started packing my bags for my journey back to California, I realized I had experienced a summer of firsts. I was the first AASV intern, the first to live in the AASV office, and the first to be locked out of the office. During my stay, I experienced my first stint of summer thunderstorms. I remember quite clearly when Dr Burkgren and Dr Schulteis were leaving one evening and began to make a plan for me if the siren went off. I had to stop them and ask, “Wait…a siren?” I never experienced a tornado while here, but I did watch quite a few thunderstorms roll through. Unfortunately, the first lightening storm that impressed me was when I had locked myself out of the AASV office after returning from a movie at the local theater at about 11 pm. Dr Sue Schulteis came to the rescue again as she provided me with a key to get myself back into my summer residence.
One of my fondest memories of my time here was traveling to Louisburg, Kansas, with the Schulteis family, where I shot off my first firecracker on the 4th of July. This was not the little noisemaker you can get anywhere; these were bright, beautiful, and impressive fireworks! I have always been fascinated with fireworks, so I could not help but be overwhelmed with emotion when we shot off the last of my firecrackers in the Schulteis front yard on the day of Jenni Schulteis’ going-away party. The anticipation, joy, and pure awe of that moment always gets my heart pumping and dreams wandering. As Jenni was about to start her career out west, I thought about my career in the not-so-distant future here in the Midwest. You see, since beginning veterinary school at UC Davis and becoming an AASV student member, I have focused on becoming a swine veterinarian.
I am honest with myself that it will be an uphill road for a California girl to make it in the swine field. My residency at the UCD Swine Unit initiated my interest in hogs, and being an AASV member has opened the door to my career in swine medicine. As the AASV intern, I was able to have a behind-the-scenes view of issues impacting swine veterinarians. I found myself diving into the publications on antimicrobial use in livestock, watching a congressional hearing on antibiotic use and resistance, and eventually drafting a start to a document on “Hogging It!” that lays out AASV’s response. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about the student’s and recent graduate’s thoughts about AASV membership through work with the Student Recruitment Committee. I was even lucky enough to be invited by Dr Locke Karriker to join the swine medicine rotation at Iowa State for 3 days. While I may not have a family background in hog production, I have made the most of all my opportunities.
By and large, the most worthwhile part of my internship was developing connections with many of the nation’s best swine veterinarians. I have been fortunate to be supported by great mentors through life and it is with great pride that I can add Dr Tom Burkgren and Dr Sue Schulteis as mentors and friends. No matter who you are or what phase of your career you find yourself in, a support system is necessary. That is exactly what AASV provides – a strong foundation and desire to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians. The AASV stands behind its members and works with great pride to see that swine veterinarians have the support system they need.
A huge thank you goes to the AASV Foundation for providing funding for the AASV Student Intern and making this internship possible. As it comes to an end, I am thankful for the connections made, friendly atmosphere provided, and the accommodations that made my stay so pleasant. I am happy to report my first summer in Iowa was a success and I look forward to the future ahead.
-- Jennifer Arnall, AASV Summer Intern