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!


Shoutout to the Horse Moms

For each and every one of us that have been involved in the horse world long term, we not only have our paternal mother…but also several ‘adopted’mothers that push us to be our best, but yet brush off our scraped knee once we have fallen. I am so lucky to have several adopted moms that I truly care about and am thankful that they have taken me under their trustworthy wings. This week, I have compiled a list of moms that we can all relate to in different eras of our horse careers.


1. The Cheerleader

Most of us started our horse experience at a young age, learning to ride in a lesson program environment with several kids our own age. My favorites always happened to be the summer camps, where our parents pawned us off as a win-win situation for not only having a good show and tell to come back to school with in the fall, but also glorified babysitting. But there were always a few horse crazy kids that caught the bug at camp and continued their horse loving journey through weekly riding lessons during the school year. Generally, we started out in private lessons until we could be trusted out in public per say, before we earned a coveted spot on our favorite lesson horse with new found friends that shared the same interest. In this environment, our moms sat outside gossiping during lessons and learning more about you than you ever knew. But, when you took your first fall off a horse, each and every one of them rushed to your aid and monitored your progress afterwards on your journey to regain your confidence. These are the moms that encouraged you, bobbed their heads in unison with the horse waiting for your first lope, and dusted you off and sat you back in the saddle.


2. The Coaches

Some moms may have rode as part of their childhood and encouraged you to do the same, or some simply went along with their child’s new interest and supported their learning endeavors. Whichever the case, by the time you had enough lessons and experience under your belt to be ready enough for your first horse show, so had the moms that patiently watched along the rail during every lesson. They’d whistle from the rail letting you know you were on the correct diagonal or on the right lead, polish your boots and let down the horses tail just before entering the ring, and whoop at the top of their lungs even if you were just a reserve placing. The beauty of these extra coaches were that you were always prepared, and never just had one mom cheering you on.

 mom 4

3. The Role Model

After you’ve had your fun taking lesson upon lesson, you finally find your niche in the equine world. More times than none, you find it through someone in which you look up to. Along my path, there have been many niches but one of my favorites has been sorting. If you are really lucky as I have been, your adopted mother not only provides you with the tools needed to achieve goals, but helps them become your own tools as well. These are the moms that you meet at a time that you can have fun with both inside and outside of the horse world and that you will be close with from here on out.

Mom 2

4. The Matriarch

When it is all said and done, you finally find someone that combines all of the mom roles into one, and beyond. This is the mom that you not only want to be like, but also want to be close with. This is the mom that you tell more to than your own, often spend more time with, and becomes the one that completes you as you’re growing up.

Mom 3


Just as in this blog post, your moms start related in the horse world and often ends up preparing you for the real one. With this in mind, I continue to thank my ‘blood’ mom that she allowed me to live this horse crazy life, as I feel like it plays the biggest role in shaping who I have become today. So now, take a second and thank your second moms for all they have done for you, and all that they will continue to do for you as often times they go unnoticed. This is the beauty of not only the horse world, but also the ag world. We understand what it takes to get through, whether it be a roof over our head, livestock in our pastures, or money in our pockets, but most importantly who you surround yourself with to achieve great things.