Not many students get to be called “doctor” while they are completing their Ph.D.s, but for Chelsey Shivley, that was the case during her four years at Colorado State University. Shivley, who holds a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Michigan State University, just completed her Ph.D. in animal sciences, studying under famed CSU Professor Temple Grandin.
Shivley made animal welfare research a hallmark of her time as a student, focusing her work on veterinary education and on-farm assessments of dairy calf health.
“Animal welfare education has a strong student component, which I truly love,” said Shivley. “But I also want to educate consumers, producers and policymakers about how we can improve the lives of animals throughout the production cycle and ensure that these animals are raised and cared for in the best possible conditions.”
Shivley channeled her passion for working with students by creating the CSU Animal Welfare Judging Team, which competes at the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest. The national event was created to promote animal welfare science to university students by coupling it with the more traditional concept of livestock judging. She launched and also coached a similar team during her time at Michigan State.
The competition involves both team and individual assessments and helps students hone presentation style as they address a number of animal welfare scenarios. Students who participate on the teams gain valuable hands-on experience and are introduced to the broad range of animal welfare, even for animals not often seen in Colorado, such as elephants.
“Chelsey is a highly motivated, intelligent student who is going to make a positive difference in the world,” said Grandin. “She is a go-getter who will get many things done. The Animal Welfare Judging Team she started at CSU has won some top honors due in no small part to Chelsey’s dedication, hard work and commitment to animal welfare education.”
In addition to coaching and teaching animal welfare, Shivley is also interested in advancing animal welfare policy on the local, state and national levels. She completed a government relations externship with the American Veterinary Medical Association, participated in an externship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Horse Protection Act, and was a student lobbyist for the AVMA.
With her Ph.D. now completed, Shivley has been awarded a prestigious AVMA Fellowship for 2016-2017, which is managed in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Shivley will serve as a scientific advisor to a member of Congress or a congressional committee. According to the AVMA, fellows “play pivotal roles in shaping and influencing key legislation affecting the veterinary profession, and the health and safety of our nation.”
“I hope I get to work on animal welfare legislation, but I know that these laws take a long time to get passed,” said Shivley. “Even if I can’t see legislation through to the end, I am eager to help educate policymakers on the importance of animal welfare to their agricultural constituents and for the broader public.”