Human & Animal Interactions Study Abroad 2018

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
I chose an education abroad as my STEP Signature Project. I went on a 10-day study abroad during winter break in various counties of Ireland, exploring human and animal interactions at different farms, agricultural settings, and other unique animal encounters.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?     Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
I am hoping to become a large animal veterinarian someday and thought it would be beneficial to work on becoming more globally minded and globally engaged in animal agriculture worldwide. This trip allowed me to experience animals from a different cultural perspective. I learned so much about Irish animal industry and how important agriculture is to the country. I gained a better understanding off the workings of different livestock industries and learned about the current “hot topics” in Irish animal news. Becoming more aware of the similarities and differences between US and Irish human and animal interactions will help me to become a better agricultural stewardess, and hopefully a better veterinarian as well.

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
The interactions that left the biggest impressions on me were ones that involved talking with local farmers about their animals and their time in that sector of animal agriculture. The two farm visits that stick out most to me are the ones where we talked to a beef farmer and a sheep farmer. In my opinion, there is no better way to learn about an industry than from someone who is in it for a living. These farmers cared an awful lot for their stock, and it showed in every word they spoke to us. They taught us about industry specifics, animal husbandry, and animal welfare topics.
These visits were most valuable to me because I share similar experiences with local farmers around home. These people are full of knowledge and wisdom that you can’t get from a lecture or just a tour of a facility. They were incredibly willing to share those things with us and were completely transparent in doing so.
I hope to apply the animal-related things to my career as a veterinarian. I also hope to apply the cultural-related things I’ve learned (such as open-mindedness, acceptance, adventure, and awareness) to myself as a person in general, a student, and an agricultural stewardess.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
This experience has been very transformational and valuable to me. I chose this education abroad to expand my understanding of human and animal interactions, animal agriculture, and cultural awareness, and this trip exceeded all of those expectations. I feel like through this trip I have grown as a person, having experienced a different country and its culture for an extended period of time. I feel more culturally aware and I think that as a student, that is a good thing to be. This allows you to be more open-minded and to thing about things in a bigger scope. With the goal of becoming a large/food animal veterinarian, I thought this trip would be a great opportunity to experience agriculture from a different point of view. From this trip, I have a better understanding of beef, sheep, and swine industries from a different perspective. I hope to apply the things that I’ve learned to my future endeavors as a student, person in society, person in agriculture, and as a future veterinarian. Overall, this was a great trip and I got a lot of really great things out of it.