Animals

A Part of Something Greater

Working on the isolation of fatty acids from Arctic Greenland Killer Whale samples.
Working on the isolation of fatty acids from Arctic Greenland Killer Whale samples.

Two years ago, I began looking for research opportunities to get involved with. As a pre-veterinary student, I was looking for research experience to add to my resume. But unbeknownst to me, this opportunity opened my eyes to something bigger than just working in a laboratory. I now perceive the world in a different light and understand the importance of research. I have grown as an individual because of the knowledge I have attained.

When I inquired on the types of research professors at UConn are conducting came across a topic that really interested me. Dr. Melissa McKinney, an assistant professor in the Natural Resources Department, explained how she collects data to evaluate the anthropogenic effects on Killer Whale feeding habits and bio-accumulation of chemical contamination.

As a new student, I worked on an experiment that resulted in the isolation of fatty acids from blubber samples of killer whales and several other kinds of marine mammals, as well as samples from prey fish species. The measurement and comparison of fatty acids is a useful tool in obtaining the fatty acid profile of an individual animal. We can compare each individual’s profile and determine their food source. Due to global warming and Continue reading

What it’s like living with Emotional Support Dog at School

Jessica and ColbyIf you take a look around UConn’s campus you will find yourself running into at least one emotional support animal (ESA) whether you’re outside or not. UConn’s definition of a emotional support animal is any animal specifically designated by a medical provider that eases the symptoms of an individual’s disability. They are known to be as companion, therapeutic or assistance animals but are not actual service animals and don’t have the same privileges as them. An approved ESA owned by an individual who lives in the school’s housing is allowed within the private living accommodations.

My roommate Laura has an emotional support dog named Colby, who she raised from a pup. Being at school without Colby for the past three years was really difficult for her because her anxiety and depression only got worse as the semesters went by. By senior year, (2018-2019) she knew she needed to get her ESA on campus. She decided to reach out to her therapist who helped her by writing a letter to the Center of Disabilities (CSD). After reading through all her documentation, Reslife and CSD agreed that having Colby in the apartment would be a huge benefit to Laura. Reslife then asked all her roommates including me, to write them an email saying that we all agree to living with Colby, since we do have the living room and kitchen as a shared space. For some people, a dog coming into an apartment could be something negative for them just because some people don’t like animals, specifically dogs, but for me as someone who has lived with cats my entire life it was the start of some great. Others, don’t understand the responsibility that comes with having an ESA, especially during college. It’s the responsibility of making sure someone is at the apartment at all times, making sure they are walked to use the bathroom and picking up their “business” outside, and to make sure they are fed at their designated times. This responsibility can be a lot to handle especially during exams, midterms and even finals. Continue reading

How Agriculture Shaped Me into the Person I am Today

Ambassador Katy after conducting her last FFA meeting as Chapter President
Ambassador Katy after conducting her last FFA meeting as Chapter President

Agriculture has been a huge part of my life since I was in the 4th grade. I joined a local 4-H county, and had my own farm with three Nubian dairy goats. After 10 years of raising and showing dairy goats and dairy cattle, I look back and see how much of an impact agriculture made on my life. If you told me when I was 9 years old that I would be pursuing a career in the agricultural field, I would have thought you were kidding. Little did I know back then by joining 4-H and being influenced by agriculture would change my life.

Ambassador Katy and Desire, her first dairy cattle 4-H project at the local 4-H Fair
Ambassador Katy and Desire, her first dairy cattle 4-H project at the local 4-H Fair

I have been a member and advisor of my local 4-H county for 11 years, and 4-H has taught me about leadership, responsibility, and work ethic through agriculture. I raised and dairy goats and dairy cattle as my 4-H project on state and regional levels. Working with animals not only has taught me many valuable qualities for animal husbandry, but it has taught me the importance of agriculture as a whole. Another organization that is very similar to 4-H is the FFA. I joined FFA when I was in high school because the high school that I attended had an FFA chapter. By being an involved member, I learned more about the agriculture industry, and realized that my future career had to involve agriculture. Going through the agricultural program at my high school was very beneficial to me because I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture. I had always dreamed of being a teacher, I just never knew what subject I wanted to teach. I realized that being an agriculture educator was a very important career, and that has been my career path ever sense. When I started looking at different colleges to go to, I knew that only going to UConn would be the best choice for me. Continue reading

Tips for Picking the Perfect College Pet!

Danny in front of fishThere’s no argument that the number one thing all college kids absolutely love is animals. There’s nothing like flock of students who sprint to pet a newly discovered dog on campus. Often students think about getting a pet of their own for companionship and stress relief. In some cases, these decisions turn into great human-pet relationships while in others a complete disaster. Having cared for and owned practically every available pet in the book here’s some advice on getting a new companion during your college career.

Firstly, you should note that the on-campus housing limits you to nothing besides a fish tank less than 30 gallons total per room (10 gallons per person). Off campus housing is much more ideal for keeping pets.  Be sure to check with your landlord for their pet policies and if there are extra required costs before getting a new companion.

Fish: A+ College Rating

My 10 Gallon "UConn" Fish Tank.
My 10 Gallon “UConn” Fish Tank.

I always like to start with fish because they’re one of my favorites groups of animals and often underrated. Not only are there a wide variety of species, colors, and temperaments but many are relatively easy to care for. One of the greatest things about fish is that they are always inside an aquarium. Unlike other animals, like snakes, fish generally stay inside the tank and you won’t have to worry about one frolicking through your dorm or apartment building if they get out!

Fish are an ideal choice of pet in college and a great stress reliever. Watching fish tanks has been proven to lower stress levels and relax people with anxiety. Entire fish tanks can be set up for under $100 and require low maintenance. Small 10 gallon kits are available at local pet stores and are great for easy to keep bettas, tetras, guppies, and other small freshwater community fish. If you are more interested in Continue reading

The Story of Buttercup

Buttercup and Alyssa at the Dairy Show
Buttercup and Alyssa at the Dairy Show

I spent a lot of time in high school and the beginning of college worrying that I would never find anything that I was passionate about. Everyone made such a big deal about it—counselors and teachers were always encouraging us to pick a major or career that we love. When I was applying to college I intended to be a nursing major, but once I got in I promptly changed my major to chemistry and then again to biology. Nothing felt right. I was getting closer—I knew I liked the healthcare industry but I wasn’t quite there yet. Finally—I don’t remember how I came to this realization—but I figured out that I wanted to work with animals and not people. I came to UConn officially as an animal science major, with the intention to go to veterinary school. Still, this just didn’t feel exactly right, but I was getting closer, so I stuck with it.

During the spring of my freshman year, I received an e-mail about participating in a dairy show, no experience necessary. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I went to the meeting anyway.  I knew I needed some experience with large animals if I wanted to be competitive for vet school. I learned that I would pick a dairy heifer, train her to walk and set up, groom her, and finally show her in front of a judge in a few months. They had a list of names of the animals we could choose, and I picked a random one: Buttercup.

I started working with Buttercup a few times a week, and every time Continue reading

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn”

Hanging out with Prince before lessons!
Hanging out with Prince before lessons!

Last semester I had the opportunity to intern at the Camp Care Inc. Therapeutic Riding Program in Columbia, CT. Since I am minoring in Therapeutic Horsemanship Education, I was required to learn the basics of running a therapeutic riding program and being a therapeutic riding instructor. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to work with many different riders and instructors. Besides learning about why we do certain stretches with our riders, how to work with riders who may decide they don’t want to ride anymore mid-lesson, and safety practices for if things go awry, the Camp Care program gave me much more than I ever anticipated.

On my first day I met Kirsten, one of the riding instructors and my new mentor. She welcomed me with open arms and made me feel as though I’d been there for years. She quickly “taught me the ropes” and I jumped in with two feet. The barn work was easy to get used to, especially coming from a horsey background. I knew the basics of feeding, cleaning up, and exercising horses. What was completely new to me was working directly with the riders. Although I was a camp counselor for a few years at my local horseback riding camp, I had never had the opportunity to work with children with special needs. Continue reading

Backyard Biodiversity and Sustainability

UConn Heron
A heron standing at the edge of UConn’s Swan Lake

As we walk around campus we seldom think about the ecological diversity that surrounds us. Each structure, flowerbed, and field at UConn has a different biodiversity than that of neighboring communities, suburban areas, and the planet as a whole. All of these ecosystems are interdependent and affect our health and livelihood, but it is no secret that we are consuming more natural resources than the earth can sustain. As an Animal Science major with a minor in Wildlife Conservation, I have been able to explore how all species adapt to physical and environmental changes. The biggest threat to biodiversity is habitat loss due to the effects of natural and human-induced factors such as agriculture, over exploitation, and industrial pollution. After taking a course in wildlife management, I learned a lot about the different techniques used to influence the plant and animal species that progress in a given territory. I began to develop a passion for sustainable living and actions that can increase earth’s biodiversity.

The perfect place to begin creating a stronger ecosystem is your very own backyard. It is not crucial to distinguish the specific biological needs of all plants and animals, but there are essential elements for most species. The four basic needs for wildlife include food, water, shelter, and nesting. The first step is making a plan that suits each asset of the yard. Consider potential habitats and water sources for different species. Target species may include animals that are endangered or of special concern. The second step is implementing suitable horticulture practices. Get rid of invasive species and cultivate plants native to the area. Planting trees and shrubs provides sources of food and shelter for wildlife. Allowing them to grow up to different sizes will attract a plethora of species that can Continue reading

A Few Not-So-Typical Reasons Why I Chose UConn

Thinking back to senior year brings back all the stress of having to choose where I was going to go to college. After submitting applications, waiting to hear back, and then having the list of schools from which to choose, I thought the decision would be a lot easier than it was. As someone who really struggles with decision making, choosing where I was going to spend the next four years of my life was not a walk in the park. Clearly, I ended up here at UConn, but my reasoning might not be what you’d expect. Here are a few reasons why I chose UConn:

Emily and SportsSports. It may sound strange to hear that sports were a major factor in my decision of where I would go to school, after all, I am here to study. But, growing up as an athlete, attending high school games, and watching professional sports on TV, while begging my Dad to take me to a Patriots game, I knew it was something I couldn’t live without. I wanted a school where it is normal to wear UConn gear head-to-toe, or scream and jump around my room when I win the lottery for basketball tickets. I wanted to be somewhere that I got chills watching the teams play and maybe even cry when we win a national championship (for the fourth time in a row). I wanted a school with so much spirit that no matter what team was playing, people were always watching. So far I can say that UConn has lived up to my expectations of what it would be like at such an athletic school, but I wouldn’t mind if Continue reading

My Journey as an Animal Science Major

Kelly and a sheepKelly and a horseComing to UConn has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Animal science has meant the world to me since I was 5 years old so when I got accepted into UConn I was very excited. However, as a young freshman I did not know exactly what this major was all about. I knew I was going to be learning about animals, anatomy, nutrition, etc. but I never knew that I was going to have the opportunity to start hands-on experience right away.

When I started my journey in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture two years ago, I had the opportunity to work a lot with animals through some independent studies. My freshman year, I also took an intro to ANSC course where I had to pick an animal to train. I was assigned a horse, which I thought would be amazing since I have never worked with horses before so I thought it would be a great opportunity to start learning about horses my first semester in college.

My first day training my horse, Tamale, was fun. I remember I groomed her that day, but when I was about to leave she stepped on my toe and it was one of the most painful things in the world. I couldn’t walk or stand on that toe for a while. At the time I did not know how to take the bus so I walked to all my classes on crutches. However, if it wasn’t for my little accident with the horse, I would not have been reassigned to a chicken, where I won first place in the Poultry advance category at Little I. My sophomore year, I had another unfortunate experience while Continue reading

Making the World a More Compassionate Place, One Product at a Time

Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!
Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!

For many people, going to college is their first taste of an adult life. You have to work around your own schedule, make your own meals, and you can’t pile up your laundry until your mom ends up eventually doing it. In the midst of all of these daily activities, in combination with balancing school, health and a social life, it is hard to find time to invest in other activities, let alone something as basic as shopping for makeup and beauty products. However, what many people do not realize is that their choices at the store actually affect much more than just their lives. Being aware of the products that you are buying and using could save hundreds of animal’s lives.

As an avid animal lover, I always feel a huge amount of remorse any time I accidentally step on my cat’s tail or leave my dog home alone for more than a couple hours—an emotion that I know many other individuals can relate to as well. Nobody I know would ever want to purposely hurt a little rabbit or any other animal. Despite this, millions of mice, rodents, dog, cats, and farm animals are mistreated and actually killed each year due to brand testing that is done behind closed doors, funded by purchases made by all of us in our day to day life. Although this is hard to hear and a problem which is impossible to eradicate all at once, very small lifestyle changes can actually have a huge impact on Continue reading