Animal welfare contest puts students, veterinarians to the test

Scenarios evaluated include shelter pets and dairy-beef cattle

Published: 19 December 2022


More than 220 students and veterinarians representing 23 universities from across North America competed in the 22nd annual AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, or AWJAC, held Nov. 18-20 in person at North Carolina State University. The contest had been held virtually for the previous two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this latest contest, undergraduates, veterinary and graduate students, and AVMA member veterinarians evaluated the welfare of show chickens, dairy-beef cattle, an octopus in an aquarium, and shelter dogs and cats. Contestants presented their findings to experts from a 12-member panel of scientists and veterinarians.

Octopus, show chicken, and cattle
An octopus in an aquarium, show chickens, and cattle were among the animals used to test the skills of more than 220 participants of the latest AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest this November.

The AWJAC 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 event is so important to the AVMA’s efforts to help our next generation of veterinary professionals enhance their understanding and awareness of issues affecting the welfare of all animals, and so I applaud everyone who took that extra step to further educate themselves about these critical issues,” AVMA President Lori Teller said in a statement.

The Animal Welfare Assessment Contest was founded in 2001 at Michigan State University as the Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest and was modeled after traditional livestock, horse, and meat judging competitions. Funded in part through an educational grant from Merck Animal Health, today’s Animal Welfare Assessment Contest brings students together from across the United States and internationally.

Winners of the 2022 contest are as follows:

Interactive Assessment, Individuals: Undergraduate, Junior Division—Nick Prosek, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Undergraduate, Senior Division—Rhiannon Hall, University of Kentucky; Veterinary Student Division—Shannon Kelley, The Ohio State University; and Graduate Division—Hannah Spitzer, University of Prince Edward Island.

Interactive Assessment, Teams: Undergraduate, Junior Division—Texas A&M University, Team 1; Undergraduate, Senior Division—North Carolina State University; Veterinary Student Division—University of Guelph, Team Gold; and Graduate Team—University of Minnesota.

Veterinary Student Division, Individual: First place—Jacob Maxwell, University of Guelph; second place—Magnus Yoshimura, Long Island University; third place—Shaela Hurley, University of Guelph; fourth place—Emily Merry, University of Guelph; and fifth place—Nena Stanekovic, University of Guelph.

Veterinary Student Division, Teams: First place—University of Guelph, Team Gold; second place—University of Prince Edward Island, Team 1; third place—University of Prince Edward Island, Team 2; fourth place—Long Island University, Team 1; and fifth place—University of Guelph, Team Red.

Graduate Division, Individual: First place—Guadalupe Ceja, Texas A&M University; second place—Gillian Power, University of Guelph; third place—Brooke Parrish, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; fourth place—Hannah Spitzer, University of Prince Edward Island; and fifth place—Kiana McDole, University of Guelph.

Graduate Division, Teams: First place—University of Minnesota; second place—University of Guelph; third place—Purdue University, Team 1; fourth place—University of Kentucky; and fifth place—Purdue University, Team 2.

Undergraduate, Senior Division, Individual: First place—Anna Nicklas, University of Guelph; second place—Jessie Bouterse, The Ohio State University; third place—Jenna Volinski, Michigan State University; fourth place—Elizabeth Schafer, The Ohio State University; and fifth place—Taylor Altman, North Carolina State University.

Undergraduate, Senior Division, Teams: First place—The Ohio State University; second place—North Carolina State University; third place—University of Guelph, Team Gold; fourth place—Michigan State University, Team 1; and fifth place—Michigan State University, Team 2.

Undergraduate, Junior Division, Individual: First place—Erin Stockland, Texas A&M University; second place—Iris Mackenzie, The Ohio State University; third place—Megan Hohman, The Ohio State University; fourth place—Jillian Gordon, Texas A&M University; and fifth place—Shelby Jones, The Ohio State University.

Undergraduate, Junior Division, Teams: First place—Texas A&M University, Team 1; second place—The Ohio State University, Team 2; third place—Texas A&M University, Team 2; fourth place—The Ohio State University, Team 1; and fifth place—Colorado State University, Team 1.


Learn more about the AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, its history, and who can participate.


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