Animal science and 4-H: From a project to a career

Through the many opportunities for youth participating in 4-H animal science projects, 4-H members are in a good position to be exposed to majors in college and careers.

The 4-H Program offers a variety of projects for youth to participate in. The project areas that are popular in 4-H are the animal science projects. In Michigan 4-H Youth Development, the animal science projects consist of companion animals (dogs, cats and birds), dairy cattle, goats, horses and ponies, livestock (beef cattle, sheep and swine), poultry (turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, pigeons or Japanese quail), rabbits and cavies, and veterinary science.

According to Michigan State University Extension, participation in any type of animal science project allows youth to learn something about animal science and develop different skills. One future result of participating in a 4-H animal science project is that it can lead to a major in college. For example, a student can major in Animal Science or choose a major in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University (MSU).

The Department of Animal Science offers a 2-year “Ag Tech” degree in Beef Management, Dairy Management, Horse Management and Swine Management. For students who are interested in earning a Bachelor’s degree (a 4-year degree) in Animal Science at MSU, there are four academic concentrations: Animal Industry, Animal Biology or Pre-Veterinary Medicine, Companion and Exotic Animal Biology, and Production Animal Scholars. Specializations in Biotechnology and Agribusiness Management are also offered. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree, there are also graduate opportunities for a Master’s degree or Doctorate (Ph.D.) for students who would like to continue to learn in a career field relating to animal science.

The College of Veterinary Medicine offers a Certificate of Completion and a Bachelor’s degree (a 4-year degree) in Veterinary Technology and has a Preveterinary Medicine program at MSU.  The College of Veterinary Medicine offers graduate opportunities for a Master’s degree, Ph.D., Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), or Dual Degrees (DVM and graduate degree).

What kind of careers can a person in animal science pursue? Examples of careers in animal science consist of areas in Livestock Production, Livestock and Horse Management, Sales and Marketing, Housing and Environmental Quality, Insurance, Food and Meat Processing, Veterinary Science (for future Veterinarians), Teaching, Research, and Extension. MSU Extension offers career opportunities relating to animal science in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute or through Michigan 4-H Youth Development.

For youth interested in animal science, encourage them to develop their skills to be able to teach other youth about animals during 4-H club meetings. Also, provide opportunities for youth to participate in community service activities or coordinate a service learning activity related to animal science. Expose youth to participate in the 4-H animal science events offered by Michigan 4-H Youth Development and other youth events and programs in the Department of Animal Science at MSU.

4-H provides many opportunities to learn about animals and animal science. Participating and getting involved in this project area can lead to a major in college and a good career.

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