Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ag Jobs A to Z: (Animal) Health

If you follow Roots on Facebook or Twitter, you know I recently took a trip to learn more about the poultry market with the Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State. Along the way, we met industry experts who generously shared their knowledge. Bill Pittenger was one of the kind people who took time out of their day to meet with our group of students.

Here's the group I traveled with to learn more about the poultry market outside Bill's office at the Missouri Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division. Back: Drew Dietz, Dan Schouvieller, Izak Christensen, Tyler Tracey, Camila Franz; Front: Shannon Hoyle, Jenna Lansing, Ellie Flickinger, Natalina Sents, Celize Christry. Photo credit: Iowa State University Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative (AgEI)
Photo credit: Bill Pittenger, Missouri Department of Agriculture

After hearing about Bill's involvement in the industry's response, prevention and elimination of avian influenza (avian flu), I knew I wanted to feature him as part of Ag Jobs A to Z. The communication, paperwork and coordination he organized is truly impressive. Hearing all the long hours and hard work he put in really made me stop and think about the people behind the food on my plate three times a day. It's thanks to caring farmers working with experts like Bill that America has such a safe food supply.

Thanks Bill for sharing your story and experiences with us!

1. Where did you go to school?
The Ohio State University

2. What inspired you to pursue a job in (animal) health?
I grew up raising a wide variety of animals and wanted to have a job working with animals.

3. How long have you been working in (animal) health?
I have been working for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division for 15 months.

4. What skills are necessary for a career in (animal) health?
Careers in animal health may require a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Other careers require a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture majoring in an animal science or related field.  Experiences working with animals and knowledge of animal husbandry, animal health, and regulations are helpful. 

5. How does your job fit into the agricultural industry? (Who do you work with? Who do you help? Who helps you?) 
My job title is Poultry Health Program Manager. I help oversee state and federal regulations dealing with the movement of poultry and other avian species and their products both intra-state and inter-state. I manage the National Poultry Improvement Plan for Missouri, which is a federal USDA program administered by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The NPIP is composed of various sub-parts through which poultry companies and individuals participate in testing programs that permit and expedite the movement of their birds and/or products. The Missouri Poultry Program works with all aspects of the Missouri poultry industry whether large or small. Our goal is to serve and protect the Missouri poultry industry by enforcing regulations that help prevent the entry and spread of avian diseases within the state. Thus, Missouri Department of Agriculture helps the poultry industry and the poultry industry helps the department by agreeing to participate in the above programs.

6. What career/internship opportunities are there with (animal) health?
The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division employs approximately 100 people in various programs including administrative, animal care facility act, meat and poultry inspection, poultry health, diagnostic laboratories, and district veterinarians. Internships are available.

Thanks again for sharing your story as an animal health expert, Bill! I'm thankful for people like you that help keep our food and farm animals safe!

Thanks for reading!

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