AABP Student Chapter of the Year

They come from rural, small town and city backgrounds. Males, females; small-animal focus, food-animal focus; no experience, lots of experience. But, they have one thing in common, an interest in bovine medicine.

The student chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners is one of the largest student clubs at Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Its 186 members bring with them a variety of experiences and backgrounds.

Last year the AABP student club held 12 different wet labs and offered 25 different lectures with expert speakers. Those activities are part of the reason the club was selected by the national American Association of Bovine Practitioners as its “2018 Outstanding Student Chapter”.

“The unique thing we try to do in the club is give students who may not have any background in bovine medicine the opportunity to start with some of the basics,” says Cody Sacquitne, fourth-year veterinary student and former president of the college’s AABP club. “We also have more complex opportunities for students with prior experience.”

The club also tries to include new activities each year, and takes advantage of contemporary issues and topics that arise during the academic year.

“We’re a pretty relaxed group and I think that attracts students,” says Michael Rohde, third-year veterinary student and current president of the AABP club.

“During the first two years of veterinary school, students don’t see a lot of live animals,” said Rohde. “The club get students outside the classroom, doing hands-on activities.” Rohde says most of those activities can be done in a couple hours during a study break, accommodating the busiest of student schedules. 

Many veterinary students will join a mixed-animal practice after graduation where they are likely to make a farm call to treat a cow, Rohde adds. “I would venture that half of our membership includes students who never handled a cow before and want to learn more.”

It was that culture of accepting the less experienced that drew Mikalah Smith to the club. “I grew up in West Des Moines and had little experience with cattle,” Smith said. “When I entered veterinary school, I wanted to explore as many aspects of veterinary medicine as possible. Joining the AABP club was part of that exploration process.”

Now in her third year of school, Smith wants to practice mixed-animal medicine after graduation, a career choice based on the experiences she had as a club member. “The club works hard to provide hands-on, supplemental training in bovine medicine,” Smith said. “Those experiences opened up that area of veterinary medicine for me.” This year Smith paying it forward as the club’s wet lab coordinator. “I’m excited about planning labs to help other incoming students get excited about bovine medicine.”

Besides the hands-on activities offered, students also enjoy the networking and social opportunities. “At conferences, students meet veterinarians who are practicing across the country and making an impact on our world through their work,” Rodhe said. “Meeting these passionate, positive individuals influences career paths more than what people realize.”

Dr. Dan Breuer, 2017 graduate and mixed-animal practitioner in Illinois, agrees. “The AABP club was a great way to get hands-on, practice-ready experience and network with bovine practitioners,“ Breuer said. “The club advisors and officers constantly go above and beyond to provide these terrific opportunities for students. I believe this is a reason why Iowa State has done so well at graduating practice-ready large- and mixed-animal veterinarians.”

The ISU student chapter of the AABP was selected as the 2018 “Outstanding Student Chapter” by the national American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Established in 2016, the award recognizes a student chapter annually for its achievements and activities.