AWJAC lets students test animal welfare knowledge, develop career skills

Congratulations to the AWJAC 2016 Winners!Congratulations to all the winners of the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) 2016, which took place this past weekend!

More than 100 students representing 15 schools took part. The AVMA-supported competition, hosted by Ohio State University this year, teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. After weighing the evidence, participants present their evaluations. High scorers win prizes in individual, team or overall categories.

Along with demonstrating the welfare needs of a range of species, the competition gives students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and oral presentation skills. Enhanced knowledge of animal welfare, a strong analytical mindset and well-honed communication skills are valuable takeaways that serve AWJAC participants throughout their education and careers.

For the first time ever, four AVMA members were able to participate in the contest this year in order to expand their understanding and practical knowledge of animal welfare and witness the caliber of the educational program presented each year to veterinary students.

Welfare Assessment: Working Horses Test Your SkillsQuiz yourself

The AWJAC competition integrates science-based knowledge with ethical values for an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, which ensures that tomorrow’s leaders in the animal sciences are prepared for the responsibility of animal welfare assessment. AWJAC initially focused on livestock species, but it now covers production, companion, laboratory and exotic animals, testing participants on a range of species and scenarios.

How would you fare? You can try out your own animal welfare assessment skills with this simplified version of the assessment, based on two scenarios involving working horses. If you missed our previous assessment quiz, comparing the situations of llamas on two fictional breeding farms, you can still take that quiz as well.

2016 Contest Results

We thank all the 2016 contest participants for representing their schools and challenging themselves to demonstrate their animal welfare assessment skills. The competition spans two days. On the first day, students evaluate a live scenario and present their findings to a panel of judges. This portion of the contest may be competed as a team or as an individual.

On the second day, each student independently evaluates three virtual scenarios and receives scores based on their evaluation as well as their defense of their findings. For those participating as part of a team, the top three individual scores are combined with the live assessment exercise score to determine the overall team score.

First-place winners by category and section are highlighted below.

Live assessment exercise:

Undergraduate student section: University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Graduate student section: Iowa State University
Veterinary student section: Iowa State University
Individual assessment exercise winner: Victoria Blake, representing the University of Pennsylvania

Overall Individual winners:

Undergraduate student section: Nevere Hammond, University of British Columbia
Graduate student section: Miriam Martin, Colorado State University
Veterinary student section: Rachel Baumgardner, Michigan State University

Overall team winners:

Undergraduate student section: University of British Colombia
Graduate student section: Colorado State University
Veterinary student section: Colorado State University

The complete results listing can be found here.

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