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K-State Today

December 11, 2018

Wildcats care about animal welfare

By Adrian Austin

Cassandra Kroncke with Highest Scoring Individual Award

On Nov. 16, students from Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine traveled to Colorado State University to compete in the annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Assessment Contest.

Under the guidance of Abbie Viscardi, research assistant professor of anatomy and physiology, students took part in educational seminars, on-site assessments, networking events, computerized scenarios, oral presentations of assessments and an awards reception.

According to its mission, the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest aims to provide a unique educational experience while strengthening student vocabulary and reasoning skills. The competition teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. Students are given the opportunity to weigh evidence and present sound evaluations. This contest ensures that tomorrow's leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare.

The contest is open to veterinary students, undergraduates and graduate students. A limited number of veterinarians also take part each year as noncompetitive participants.

Viscardi said K-State veterinary students held their own and represented the college well with their success throughout the two-day event.

"Cassandra Kroncke, one of our first-year veterinary students, placed as the highest scoring individual in the live assessment for the Veterinary Division," Viscardi said. "The undergraduate team did not place in the top five, but it will be interesting to see where it fell in comparison to the other teams when we get the full results back. They all did a really great job and I could not have been more proud! We had a lot of great animal welfare discussions throughout the weekend and it was encouraging to see how critically they thought of each scenario."

Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, also attended the event. K-State students mentioned how excited they were to be able to chat with Grandin, as she has been at the forefront of animal behavior studies in the livestock industry.

"I really appreciate Dr. Viscardi's leadership in assembling, coaching and mentoring the first Kansas team to participate in this contest," said Hans Coetzee, head of the anatomy and physiology department. "Irrespective of the outcome, this was a good experience for everyone and I know the students really appreciated Abbie's efforts and the opportunity."