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Department of Animal Sciences


Day of Giving 2024: How Scholarships Change the Student Experience

April 17, 2024

For many Buckeyes, a scholarship isn't just financial aid – it's a chance to seize new opportunities during their time on campus that students may not have had otherwise. Scholarships can provide students the option to forego full-time work in favor of valuable college experiences. Receiving a scholarship can mean spending more time on studies, being active in student life, or enriching their college experience with internships, study abroad, or co-curricular teams.

The Department of Animal Sciences is committed to providing opportunities for an affordable, accessible education so students can pursue experiences promoting personal, academic, and career success. These student stories illustrate how our donors and supporting community impact the lives of our Buckeyes, and in turn, the future of animal sciences.


Wesley Kelch, a Highland County native, grew up surrounded by agriculture. From a young age, he enjoyed working with and helping animals, spending a lot of time around them in 4-H. Within his experiences with animals, he also noticed how a shortage of large animal veterinarians in his home county made it difficult to get care for his animals outside of an emergency. Seeing a need in his community, Wesley decided to be part of the solution by pursuing a degree in Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University with the intention of becoming a large animal veterinarian.Wesley Kelch

Wesley was drawn to the tight-knit community feel of CFAES, while also having access to all the resources available at a university like Ohio State. With his intention to attend veterinary school in the future, Wesley noted how scholarships have allowed him to continue to save for his future education.

“At OSU I have had the opportunity to explore my interest in poultry science and develop new interests in things like animal welfare. Having a scholarship has allowed me to explore these interests, because I can spend more of my time exploring my interests and doing schoolwork, and less time working.”

It also allows him to spend more time learning and doing– things he is all too familiar with from his time in 4-H. He is active in the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association, Collegiate 4-H, and the Poultry Science Club on the Columbus campus.

“If I could speak directly to my donors, I would like to say how grateful I am to have received these opportunities. I know I am very fortunate, and I want to use these opportunities to benefit not only myself, but to pay it forward and help my community.”

Following his time in Animal Sciences, Wesley is eager to attend veterinary school and ultimately return to Highland County to provide large animal veterinary services, as well as educate people on how we can implement better practices that not only improve welfare but also production.

Wesley was a 2023 recipient of a Department of Animal Sciences scholarship. Interested in impacting students like Wesley? Help support future Animal Sciences students by giving today.


Elaina Purk’s idea of home while growing up consisted of many miles of corn and soybeans, rather than suburbs or city life. Growing up on a swine-focused operation, Elaina was exposed to livestock from a young age and credits her upbringing with shaping her into the woman she is today. Raising livestock from the very beginning and exhibiting them at her county fair is something she has always been passionate about and was the piece of her experience in agriculture that drew her to the field of animal science.Elaina Purk

But choosing a school that would fit both her personal interests and still feel like home seemed like quite the challenge at first. However, the Animal Sciences freshman didn’t have to travel far to find exactly what she was looking for.

“When I was deciding on my new home to continue my education, The Ohio State University was always there for me.  I was drawn in by the family aspect, the way agriculture means so much to those who work in the college, and finally the resources that Ohio State has to offer.”

To Elaina, it was not only important to have hands-on experiences working with animals, but also to get involved outside of the classroom– something scholarships have allowed her to take full advantage of. “Receiving scholarship funding has made a great difference in my college experience just in my first year. Since I got scholarship funding, I was able to focus more on my extracurriculars especially getting involved in community service, my studies, and excelling overall as a student at The Ohio State University.”

Elaina is active in the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association, Saddle & Sirloin Club, Oval Dogs, and the Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Living-Learning Community. “It has allowed me to spend more time related to my interests in my major rather than worrying about working, which I will forever be grateful for.  These experiences I have been able to make along the way because of scholarship funding are invaluable.”

Elaina also excels in the classroom, making the Dean’s list during her first semester at Ohio State. Faculty have also taken notice of Elaina’s commitment to her studies, using projects she has worked on as examples for other students. She also enjoys going on tours and rounds through the Veterinary Hospital.

“If I could speak directly to my donor, I would just like to say thank you. These accomplishments and experiences that I have had so far would have been extremely difficult or not even possible if it was not for being a scholarship recipient.

Elaina knows that her small-town roots and love for agriculture makes her unique to her peers, and the opportunity that I have of being in the Animal Science Department is something she values deeply. “If it was not for scholarship donors, I would not be where I am at today, so thank you again for providing opportunities to Animal Sciences students.”

Elaina plans to become a Large Animal Veterinarian.  She is eager to give back to the community and industry that she grew up in and is passionate about service. “I hope to be able to continue that throughout the rest of my life, especially back home.”

Elaina was a 2023 recipient of a Department of Animal Sciences scholarship. Interested in impacting students like Elaina? Help support future Animal Sciences students by giving today.