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Department of Animal Sciences


20th Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest (AWJAC)

Nov. 24, 2020

The Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest (AWJAC) virtually celebrated its 20th year of competition on November 21st and 22nd. The Ohio State University was well-represented across all student divisions: undergraduate (junior and senior), graduate, and veterinary.

Undergraduate students Brietta Latham, Maddie Pinkerton, and Elizabeth Schafer and graduate students Brittany Fischer, Shannon Kelley, and Madeline Winans competed. Supportive team members included undergraduate student, Bri Strayer and graduate student, Nicole Lorig. Undergraduate students were co-coached by Drs. Jessica Pempek and Benjamin Wenner, and graduate students were co-coached by Dr. Jessica Pempek and Zach England.

Due to COVID-19, all students competed individually year, yet this format did not impede our students’ hard work and dedication in preparation for the contest. Collectively, they were awarded one-fourth of the total AWJAC awards. In the undergraduate division, Brietta Latham placed 2nd (senior division) and Maddie Pinkerton placed 5th (junior division). Madeline Winans and Shannon Kelly placed 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the graduate student division.

Julia Rose placed 2nd in the veterinary student division and was coached by Department of Animal Sciences alumna, Dr. Kate Creutzinger. A complete list of the awards can be found here:

This year, AWJAC was hosted virtually by North Carolina State University, and welcomed nearly 200 contestants across 32 universities and seven countries. 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 contest ensures that tomorrow's leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare” ( Students had the opportunity to attend numerous educational seminars, including the history of AWJAC, animal welfare in undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary education, as well as the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its positive impact on animal welfare. Species covered in this year’s contest included turkeys and cheetahs in captivity.

The contest was sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Merck Animal Health, and Charles River Lab. North Carolina State University will also host the 2021 AWJAC; species and other contest details are TBD. 

Brietta Latham: 2nd place – Senior Undergraduate Division

Maddie Pinkerton: 5th place – Junior Undergraduate Division

Madeline Winans & Shannon Kelley: 1st and 2nd place -- Graduate Division

A Zoom celebration after AWJAC with turkey mascot, Sophia, making an appearance to celebrate the students’ hard work and dedication