UWRF Excels in Animal Welfare Competition

University of Wisconsin-River Falls students competed in the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Animal Welfare Assessment Contest. They contest included peers from across North America and Europe and they learned from experts and students about animal welfare. 

A five-student team made up of animal science majors placed third in the senior undergraduate division. Those on the team included Emma Hamilton, Brooke Casey, Alli Matzek, Beth McIlquham and Lilly Streich. Matzek also placed fourth in the individual part of the competition. Student Shawna Sigl participated in the event’s graduate level.

232 undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students from 24 universities participated in the judging contest as they learned about animal welfare.

As part of this year’s contest, students were provided with information depicting living conditions for farmed bison, tortoises in a zoo, cage-free laying hens, and lab rats. Students studied those scenarios and worked to explain shortcomings of each situation and how to improve conditions for animals. 

Kurt Vogel, professor of animal welfare and behavior who oversees the university’s Humane Handling Institute, began work in 2019 to bring the contest to UW-River Falls. Hosting the event was delayed a couple of years because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but this year’s high turnout was evidence that interest it in has returned, he said.

“Hosting this contest means a lot to us,” Vogel said. “We have been doing a lot to build up our animal welfare program, and this was an opportunity to show that we have a high-quality program here.”

As part of the event, attendees toured the Minnesota Zoo and the Jon-De Farm in rural Baldwin.