Animal Science at Iowa State University: Exceptional experiential learning
Promoted by Iowa State University

Animal Science at Iowa State University: Exceptional experiential learning

Iowa State University junior in Animal Science Thomas Vastine is passionate about horses. “I always wanted to pursue something Animal Science related but it was the time I spent horseback riding and shadowing a local vet that really pushed me to take action on that dream,” shares Vastine.

If you have a passion for Animal Science just like Vastine, Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the place to be, especially with its unique Department of Animal Science. This department isn’t just any ordinary one – it’s ranked among the top in the nation, recognised for its excellence in education, research, and outreach. It’s part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, among the top 4% of agriculture institutions globally, and the state of Iowa, which leads in agricultural production in the US.

With a focus in hands-on learning and real-world experiences, the department has prepared scores of students for success in many fields, from animal nutrition and genetics to livestock production and management. Iowa State’s Animal Science graduates have a 99% placement rate within six months of graduation. Whether you’re interested in dairy cattle, poultry production, or equine science, there are various courses and opportunities to get first-hand knowledge to serve the needs of the animal industries.

Iowa State University Department of Animal Science uses a virtual anatomy dissection table to teach students how to find organs and how animals fit together. Source: Iowa State University

Plus, with access to state-of-the-art facilities — like the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Centre, a federally-inspected meats laboratory, farms featuring all of the major species including cattle, swine, dairy, equine, sheep, broilers, laying hens, turkeys — you’ll have everything you need to excel.

For Vastine, his favourite facility is the equine farm. This is where he’s immersed in all stages of reproduction and mastering their daily care. Assigned his own mares to attend to for foaling, Vastine performs daily mare checks and spends two nights a week doing foal watch to monitor horses for signs of dystocia, call necessary personnel, and monitor the newly born foals. “This class has really helped me identify my passion for the reproductive side of the equine industry; whether it’s the mares and foals, or the stallions,” he says.

The Department of Animal Science has teaching farms filled with swine, sheep, beef, poultry, dairy, and equine. Source: Iowa State University

The Animal Science major covers many topics, including animal nutrition, genetics, reproduction and management. You’ll learn how to care for various types of animals, from livestock like cattle and pigs to companion animals like dogs and cats, through courses such as Animal Nutrition, Domestic Animal Physiology, and Poultry Science. In addition, enterprise management courses during your senior year tie all the pieces together to understand how knowledge in the science of animals influences the ability to manage enterprises focused on food animal production. These courses provide a solid foundation in animal science principles and prepare you for different career paths, from animal nutrition, to ag technology, livestock production, breeding and genetics, veterinary medicine, research and more.

The best part is the mix of lectures, laboratory sessions, and hands-on experiences. Undergraduate research opportunities are available too. Beyond campus, you’ll have the chance to participate in internships, research projects and study abroad programmes.

To further enhance your learning and skills, you can choose from various certificate programmes in areas you are interested in. These programmes provide training and hands-on experience that complement your major studies and prepare you for careers in animal agriculture. These certificate programmes include Beef Cattle Production Management, Swine Production Management, Equine Science and Management, Poultry Production Management and Dairy Cattle Production Management.

The horse barns on campus provide students with the opportunity to learn and work in a hands-on setting. Source: Iowa State University

Whether you’re in the classroom, farm, or lab, the department ensures that all students are well supported throughout their time at the university. You’ll be assigned a faculty advisor to guide you through your academic journey, offering advice and support whenever you need it. If you are struggling with coursework or seeking career guidance, your advisor will be there to help you. You’ll have access to teaching assistants, tutors, and peer mentors who can help you tackle challenging subjects as well.

“Iowa State offers a lot of opportunities to help you grow. They have incredible faculty members who can help you find your path. They are passionate, involved in the industry, and constantly working with companies. Utilise the faculty to understand what exists after graduation,” shares graduate Erin Horst.

University isn’t just about academics. It’s just as much about making a lifetime of memories with new friends and connections — in this aspect, Iowa State shines. There are many clubs and organisations, such as Bacon Expo, Rodeo Club, Block and Bridle Club, and multiple Judging Teams to further develop your critical thinking and communication skills, and more.

And when it’s time to start thinking about life after graduation, Iowa State has you covered. With internship and job opportunities through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Services, as well as the CALS Career Day — the largest agriculture and life sciences career fair in the nation — you’ll have no shortage of options.

So, if you’re ready to turn your passion for animals into a career, look no further than Iowa State University’s Department of Animal Science. With its top-notch education, research opportunities and hands-on experiences, you’ll be well-equipped to make a difference in the world of agriculture.

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