Career Development through Experiential Learning: Alcorn hosts Bovine Artificial Insemination Certification Program

They came. They saw. They conquered.

On Monday, June 23, 2014, a closing program was held to congratulate the participants of the Bovine Artificial Insemination Training Program, implemented by the staff of the Beef Research Project in the Department of Agriculture. The ceremony—held in the Extension and Research Building's Ray Johnson Assembly Center—featured an overview of the program, comments from the participants and the presentation of certifications.

During the course of the program, a select group of students and staff gathered at the campus Dairy Farm to learn the cutting-edge skills in current reproductive technologies. The students were exposed to real reproductive tracts where they could see and feel the different sections, and were lectured on proper methods of achieving high conception rates. After expressing proficiency in manual identification of each section of the tract, the students were taught to reach the site of semen deposition by penetrating the cervical canal. In addition, they mastered the skills of managing the semen tank, selecting bulls for genetic improvement, thawing and care of semen, and learned about the advantages and disadvantages of artificial insemination.

Lead by Dr. Evelin J. Cuadra, animal science professor, with assistance from Dr. Melissa Mason, research scientist (both of the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences), the Bovine Artificial Insemination Training Program allowed students to gain practical skills for career development through hands-on experiential learning.

About the program, Mason stated, “The point of this training program was for the participants to learn, work with, and be associated with the anatomy of cows.”

Cuadra added, “This certification is a great tool for developing a successful career. I have constituents across the globe who, upon completing their bachelor’s degree, went on to start their own artificial birth consulting firms which are very profitable.”

Program participant Erica Davis, a graduate student in the animal science program, attested to the profitability of the skill, stating, "Now, that I am a certified veterinarian technician, I was already contacted by a vet from Hattiesburg to go to rural farms and conduct artificial insemination for the farmers."

The project was funded by the Capacity Building Grant Programs, an entity of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Cuadra, who wrote the grant for the project, explained that the program is aimed at increasing minority participation in artificial birth technologies.

He emphasized that the artificial reproductive technologies taught by this program are not only important to the economic quality of life for agriculturalists in the field, but is of practical, global importance to feed an ever-growing population.

"As of the 2012 census, there are seven billion people populating the face of the earth. By 2050, that number will skyrocket to nine billion leaving us with the dilemma of sustaining two billion more people using the same amount of land and resources,” Cuadra said. “Americans consume on average 274 pounds of meat per year, more than any other nation in the world. Factoring in the statistics that in an average lifespan, a female cow will only give birth to 4-8 calves, and that if she has desirable genetic traits (such as high milk production and fertility), there is a small chance (15-20percent) that she will pass these economically lucrative traits on to her offspring, we can understand the frantic need to produce future ranchers and animal scientists, equipped with the skills to utilize artificial reproductive technologies.”

For more information on the Bovine Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer Training Program Programs in the School of AREAS, contact Dr. Melissa Mason, Morris-Boykin Agricultural Science Building at (601) 877-4006 or [email protected].

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