Animal Welfare Judging Team

Coach: Dr. Jessica Pempek
Co-coaches: Dr. Benjamin Wenner and Zach England

The Animal Welfare Judging Team is a co-curricular team in the Department of Animal Sciences that competes in the Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) during Autumn semester. 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.” The contest is a two-day event and relies on on-farm and computer-based scenario assessments containing data on many aspects of animal welfare, including behavior, health, physiology, and performance. Students have the opportunity learn about a wide variety of animal species, as the species chosen each year are different. For more information on AWJAC, please visit: www.awjac.org

Undergraduate and graduate student teams are formed at the beginning of Autumn semester each year. General expectations include student participation in weekly practices, and a bit of homework throughout the week to help students learn more about specific animal species and practice oral reasoning.

By joining the Animal Welfare Judging Team and attending AWJAC, you will not only engage with students with share interests at Ohio State, but you will also be able to interact with students and animal welfare experts across the U.S. and beyond.

If you are interested in learning more about AWJAC or animal welfare science, please contact Dr. Jess Pempek (pempek.4@osu.edu).

2020

The Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest (AWJAC) virtually celebrated its 20th year of competition on November 21st and 22nd. This year, AWJAC was hosted virtually by North Carolina State University, and welcomed nearly 200 contestants across 32 universities and seven countries. Species covered in this year’s contest included turkeys and cheetahs in captivity.

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. Collectively, they were awarded one-fourth of the total AWJAC awards, the most awarded to any university. 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.

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.

2017

The 2017 Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest was held November 18-19 at Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa. One of the two Animal Sciences' undergraduate teams and the College of Veterinary Medicine's team placed first in their respective divisions. Undergraduate Heather Pechtl was 1st place high individual for the undergraduate division. Team members on the first place undergraduate team included: Grace Moeller, Taylor Klass, Anna Garrett, Heather Pechtl, Julia Rose and coach Monique Pairis-Garcia. Jillian Garrison was 4th place high individual in the veterinary division. Team members included: Jillian Garrison, Meghan Studds, Clara Bruner and coach Emma Bratton. Competitors assessed the welfare of finisher pigs, meat rabbits, racing greyhounds, and farmed fish. Competitors also got a chance to tour the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine and listen to Dr. Temple Grandin speak about animal welfare.

L-R: Heather Pechtl, Mary Burkemper, Brooke Friend, Julia Rose, Taylor Klass, Emily Luc, Anna Garrett, Zach England, Grace Moeller, Lauren Ross, Lauren Cichocki

2016

The 2016 Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest was held November 12 and 13 at The Ohio State University Fawcett Center. The competition hosted over 10 universities from North America to compete in undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary student divisions. Allison Pullin, a graduate student in OSU's Department of Animal Sciences, coached two teams of undergraduate Animal Sciences students for 10 weeks on how to scientifically assess the welfare of four diverse animal species. Students prepared by collecting and presenting scientific resources, touring industry farms, and practicing oral reasoning skills. At the competition, students performed a live assessment of Ohio State's laying hen facility and conducted virtual assessments of meat sheep, laboratory guinea pigs, and purebred dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left to right, Marissa Mulligan, Shannon Kelley, Zach England, Julia Rose, Allison Pullin (coach),
Heather Pechtl, Abby Simon, Anna Garrett, Taylor Klass, and Rachel Park

Undergraduate Animal Sciences students competing on Team A included, Zach England (sophomore from Osgood, IN); Shannon Kelley (sophomore from Pittsburgh, PA); Marissa Mulligan (senior from Flourtown, PA); and Julia Rose (junior from Coldwater, OH).

Third place team, left to right: Marissa Mulligan, Zach England, Shannon Kelley, Julia Rose,
and Allison Pullin (coach)

Undergraduate Animal Sciences students competing on Team B included, Anna Garrett (sophomore from Cincinnati, OH); Taylor Klass (junior from Worthington, OH); Rachel Park (senior from Rootstown, OH); Heather Pechtl (sophomore from Mundelein, IL); and Abby Simon (sophomore from Oak Forest, IL).

Fourth place team, left to right: Allison Pullin (coach), Heather Pechtl, Taylor Klass, Anna Garrett,
Abby Simon, and Rachel Park

In a field of 13 undergraduate teams, Team A placed 3rd overall and Team B placed 4th overall. Individual student awards are also presented, and in a field of 49 students, Julia Rose (Team A) received 2nd place overall and Heather Pechtl (Team B) received 3rd place overall.

Mission of the contest: "The Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) aims to provide a unique educational experience while strengthening student vocabulary and reasoning skills. The 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." AWJAC.org

The contest was sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Student AVMA, and Ohio Poultry Association. Dr. Monique Pairis-Garcia of OSU Department of Animal Sciences and Dr. Katy Proudfoot of OSU College of Veterinary Medicine were integral in coordinating the 2016 event.

2015

The 2015 Intercollegiate Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest was held November 14 and 15 at The Ohio State University. Undergraduate Animal Sciences students Rachel Park, Hannah Slykerman, Bradley Hogshead, Allison Meek, Jennifer Frost, and Nicole Danszczak competed on two teams in the undergraduate division. The teams were co-coached by Caitlyn Mullins and Allison Pullin, graduate students in Animal Welfare and Behavior, and they covered urban vs. rural heavy pulling draft horses, llamas, Asian elephants, and Jersey dairy heifers (live assessment at the Waterman Dairy Unit).

One of the teams placed 3rd overall in a field of 10 teams from universities throughout North America. Additionally, Brad Hogshead received 4th place overall for individuals (out of over 40 individuals). The 3rd place team was composed of Rachel Park, Hannah Slykerman, and Bradley Hogshead.

Left to right, Caitlyn Mullins (co-coach), Allison Meek, Jennifer Frost, Rachel Park,
Hannah Slykerman, Bradley Hogshead, and Allison Pullin (co-coach).
Not in picture: Nicole Danszczak

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team of Caitlyn Mullins, Allison Pullin, Carter Wallinger, and Laura Whalin earned first place at the 2014 competition, which was held at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich. The live on-farm assessment was a cow-calf operation and the computer-viewed scenarios included shelter cats, grower pigs, and captive seals.