On Feb. 15, the University of Maine Animal Club (MAC) traveled to the University of New Hampshire in Durham to participate in the regional Northeast Student Affiliate (NESA) competition. Each year UMaine is invited to compete, as UMaine is an institution with an accredited animal science program.
The students from UMaine participating in the competition were President Hadley Moore, Vice President Grant Herchenroether, Lilla Tilton-Flood, Mikala Dwelley, Jordan Kelley, Shannon O’Grady, Amber Ferris and Samantha Marie.
The competition was set up in the style of teams of 4 in a single-elimination bracket-style quiz-bowl against other teams that test their knowledge of the animal sciences. UMaine placed fifth out of the nine teams in attendance. Herchenroether noted that fifth place is an improvement for the UMaine team in comparison to prior years, which they are extremely proud of.
The competition consists of a livestock judging portion that tests students on their abilities to evaluate and rank various animals based on their body composition and features. The final portion of the competition asks one student representative from each team to present on a current trend in animal science or a review of a research article. The presentations are graded by judges and normally encompass any research the student might be conducting themselves. While this allows students an opportunity to showcase their skills, it also gives them a chance to share their research on a larger scale.
The students involved in the UMaine Animal Club are extremely passionate about the work they are doing, particularly their work at J. Franklin Witter Teaching & Research Center.
“I’ve personally been a part of MAC for the last three years now, I joined as a sophomore. When I first joined, the club [didn’t have] very strong standing, only having a few members. I was actually able to become treasurer a week after joining because there [were] no officers besides the president and vice president at the time,” Herchenroether said. “The next year I was secretary and acting vice president. During that time we advertised the club a lot and got more involved on campus so we had a rise in membership. This year I am the official vice president and since I’ll be here next year, I plan to run for president. At this time we have a total of 7 officers for the club, 15 additional returning members and 39 new members who joined last semester with about half of them being heavily involved in the club. I hope that over the next few years we can establish a larger program that’ll allow the club numerous opportunities with handling the pigs and creating a local market for them.”
In addition to UMaine, participants in attendance included University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Connecticut, University of New Hampshire, University of Delaware, University of Rhode Island, Delaware Valley University, Rutgers University and Penn State University. UMaine plans to offer its facilities as host of the 2022 NESA competition.
Alongside preparing for the NESA competition, the UMaine Animal Club simultaneously works closely with year-round management of the Berkshire pigs at the Witter Teaching & Research Center in Orono. They prepare the dairy herd at Witter by halter training young calves in order to participate in the annual Royal show in April. They also work with the Ewe-Maine Icelandic Sheep Club and Standard-bred Drill Team to host a variety of events such as the Trick-or-Trot, Witter Wonderland and the Spring Horse Show.
For those interested in joining the UMaine Animal Club, weekly meetings are held at the Witter Teaching & Research Center on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.