Misconceptions of Animal Science Degrees

 “Are you in school?”

“Yes, I study Animal Science at Missouri State University.”

“Aw, a vet. Good choice!”

If you are a fellow Animal Science student, I’m sure you understand this classic conversation with new acquaintances. We barely get one question answered about our college career, and the common misconception occurs about us all wanting to be veterinarians. If we have time, we share with them that this is not the case and enlighten them on what we plan to do with the rest of our lives. But there are always those moments where a conversation is cut off early, and we have no way to correct them on their assumptions. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a vet, we just simply have different aspirations and visions with our degree. As a way to educate the public, I have surveyed several college students to see just what they are up to and more specifically, how they plan to use their Animal Science degree in the real world.


Brittany Rucker, working with a young horses in one of her classes.
Brittany Rucker, working with a young horses in one of her classes.

” Horses are my passion. I knew I always wanted to be around them since I was 12. I may never be money rich, but if I get to be around horses everyday I won’t work a day in my life. I’d rather muck stalls in 20 degree weather than be a paper pusher in a warm office. An animal science degree will allow me to do that. “

Brittany Rucker, a student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO sought after an Animal Science degree because she simply wants to work with horses for the rest of her life. After graduation, she would like to obtain a job in Equine Management. Prior to MSU, she attended Redlands Community College in Oklahoma. Her favorite moments so far in her college career have been the memories made while she has been a part of various Equestrian and Ranch Horse teams.



Kerstine and one of her horses, Blaze.
Kerstine and one of her horses, Blaze.


” Looking back I wouldn’t have spent my money or time learning about anything else. Animals and agriculture are what make the world go round. With out it we would be naked and hungry. “



Photo from a field trip for Meat Evaluation.
Photo from a field trip for Meat Evaluation.

Kerstine Whittaker’s journey begins at SBU in Bolivar, MO. Her advisor asked her what she would like to do with her life, and she instantly thought of teaching agriculture. After realizing that teaching teenagers takes a very special person, she then decided to see what the animal world had in store for her and her interest then turned to Animal Science. After graduation, she would like to find a job that would allow her to inform the public about agriculture as she feels that the agriculture industry is under fire the most when people are ignorant about where their food comes from. Kerstine now also attends Missouri State University where some of her favorite experiences have been the hands on activities such as artificial inseminating mares and preg checking cattle.

” This is why the animals science degree means so much to me, being around animals and learning in a way that actually teaches you instead of out of a book. “



Dakota meeting Rex Peterson RJ Masterbug, a horse trained for Hidalgo.
Dakota meeting Rex Peterson RJ Masterbug, a horse trained for Hidalgo.

” My favorite things that I have learned or experienced were back at NEO. I absolutely loved the equine training and management course. I learned so much, and there is no greater feeling in the world then showing a horse that you started and doing decent at it! To tell you the truth, I learned so much from the equine program there as a whole…..just loved it all! “

Dakota Keith started her Animal Science journey at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College where she obtained a degree in Equine and Ranch Management. Today, she attends Oklahoma State University where she continues her Animal Science major with an added Agricultural Communications major, Agricultural Economics minor. After graduation, she is hoping to obtain a in the equine industry working in horse show management or for an equine publication.

As part of her journeys, she works for the Pinto Horse Association of America where she works during the World Championship Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This last year, she assisted Samantha Hearn in managing Rex Peterson’s appearances during the event. Dakota chose an Animal Science degree because she simply loves all aspects of the livestock industry. She hopes that she can use her knowledge of animal agriculture to inform the public through her news stories!

Cassie with a new baby at MSU!
Cassie with a new baby at MSU!

” I wanted a career to work with animals in some way, shape, or form. “

Cassie O’Hara first began her journey at Northern Illinois University, then University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, but she now calls Springfield, MO home where she is pursuing her Master’s degree at MSU in Animal Science. When she graduates, she would like to see herself working at a university or a community college working with an equine program, but is also now considering a research related career. She is on the fast track to pursuing her dreams as she has been busy conducting fecal sample studies through her graduate project, while also assisting in coaching the MSU Western Equestrian team. Her favorite experience during her time at Missouri State, has been learning how to care for and treat livestock of different species.


Michelle with a baby bottle calf from her farm!
Michelle with a baby bottle calf from her farm!

Michelle DeLong chose an Animal Science degree because she has always loved animals and has always had jobs in that related area, whether it be working on a horse ranch, to working on a dairy farm, and now owns her own ranch. She is proud to be an alumni of Missouri State University, where her favorite experience occurred during an Animal Companionship class where she was graded on training an animal all semester. Another one of the classes that she enjoyed was the Equine Exercise Physiology course where she was granted the opportunity to take a field trip to another college to see they work that they did with ex-racehorses. Michelle now runs her own ranch where she raises many different species including beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy goats, pigs, and horses. On top of all of this she even makes time to do horse training and give lessons!

”  I feel I couldn’t be doing anything better with my degree. “

My student and I posing for the camera!
My student and I posing for the camera!

During my own adventure to achieve an Animal Science degree, I have been so blessed to experience many great things. From my days at NEO with the livestock and equestrian team, to being a certified riding instructor, to being a part of the behind the scenes show management for the NRHA, and to learning the ropes and methods of management at various horse barns…I wouldn’t trade any moment for the world. With graduation sneaking up on me in a few short weeks, I have realized that I am right where I want to be. No, I have no intentions of attending vet school, but I respect those that do as I will have many dealings with them in the future as does any animal owner. So to my fellow Animal Science majors that are reading this, continue to rock what you do and create your own success story! Thanks again to those that contributed to this blog post and took time out of your busy lives to share your experiences with me!


Take a Walk In My Shoes at Missouri State

As part of a class project this week, my instructor in Public Relations in Ag gave us the assignment to make a promotional video regarding Missouri State or Agriculture. After brainstorming for a few minutes trying to come up with a topic or video that wouldn’t be too cheesy, we agreed to talk about some of our experiences at Missouri State, because after all that’s why we all knew each other anyways. Below is our link to the YouTube video that we published. Now, keep in mind that this is a very rough draft, we only had an hour to complete the assignment, our props are home made and our budget is far below slim to none. 🙂

After creating this video, it made me think about why exactly I did choose Missouri State. What have I learned? What unique experiences have I had? How else would I have met some of the awesome friends I have made? Although, choosing the next path in your education is never easy, so often we forget about what we choose with it as well.

The courses I have taken at Missouri State have been beyond helpful. My favorites continue to be the Equine Science classes as I am a horse person inside and out, but I can’t say I have really not liked a course….other than Chemistry or Missouri Government but I feel as if that is self explanatory. I have been fortunate enough to pick a field of study in which I am passionate about and MSU has the facilities to satisfy educational endeavors. The Journagen Ranch keeps the largest purebred cattle herd of any in the United States, and this semester I have been lucky enough to work hands on in prepping the facility and the cattle for the upcoming production sale.

Journagen Bull

In addition, the school also maintains an indoor arena, several head of horses for school riding team practices, stallions for collection and semen labs, and broodmares for spring foals. Although a real job gets in the way of being active on a school team, they offer a Western Horsemanship IHSA team, a Huntseat IHSA team, a Ranch Horse team, and a NRHA Judging team.

Blog at MSU

But at the end of the day, school is still a headache. One of the most important things that keeps me going are the friends and the connections I have made. Together, we teach each other study aids outside of the classroom, keep one another up to date in case someone can’t always make it to class, use each other’s accounts for printing, and borrow books so you don’t have to buy them. These are everyday occurrences for us in the ag department, but in the long run it comes down to not what you know, but you who you know. One day after we graduate, we will keep in touch and cross each others paths in the industry, helping one another out like we have already done.


A Glance at the Author

Hey y’all! My name is Sami Johnson and I am from rural Southwest Missouri. For a little background about myself, I am currently a senior studying Animal Science from Missouri State University. Long story short, I am about to put my big girl pants on and enter the real world. But there is a twist on things, I am taking life by the reins and am chasing a future career with horses. To some this seems like a dream, but to me this is a long term goal. I guess that you could say that it should come naturally to me as my world has revolved around horses since I was 6 years old, but the real world still is scary and intimidating. The process of turning a hobby into a career is exhilarating, but the fear of failure is real.

My educational journey involved in agriculture first started at Aurora High School where I was actively involved in FFA. I wondered off my career path and successfully judged livestock, where I was led to Indianapolis for national convention, the UK for the Royal Highland Show, and finally Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College where I completed my Associate’s Degree in General Agriculture. While at NEO, I was a rider on their very first IHSA Western Horsemanship team where I competed against other collegiate riders in our region. After completing school in lovely Miami, OK I moved on to my hometown college of MSU where I am currently wrapping up my Bachelor’s Degree. As a college student, I plan to reflect on several of my favorite, frustrating, and fun filled moments that I had along the way being an ag student.

Blog-About me

Currently, I am employed at a beautiful facility known as Black Diamond Stables in Rogersville, MO. My two lovely mares reside there, along with about 50 others that we are responsible caring for on a daily basis. In addition to being a farm hand and a fellow boarder, I also am a ARIA certified riding instructor where I specialize in giving beginner/intermediate level riding lessons and help others spark their love of horses. From time to time, I even ride a few horses for others and give tune-ups. The bosses, boarders, horses, and fellow coworkers are wonderful. There are so many lessons to learn in an environment like it, many experiences to share, and even a few situations that make you shake your head but that’s really just what life is about.

I hope that you will check in from time to time to see what I have been up to and get to know me more along the way!