Berry’s largest major keeps growing

Lesli Marchese, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

Berry College attracts students from all over the country for its animal science major program. Animal science is currently Berry’s largest major, with 280 majors as of 2013. The program has been focusing on making changes to accommodate the growth.

George Gallagher, department chair and Dana professor of animal science, said the department is constantly looking at the academic program and adjusting to make it more relevant to prepare students for a future after graduation.

“It’s a never-ending feat of trying to keep up and adjust, and a lot of times it’s trial and error,” Gallagher said. “We want to keep abreast of all the scientific changes going on in the world.”

                                                                          Photo by Bryanna Perry, Staff Photojournalist
                                                                            Graphic by Ryder McEntyre, Graphics Editor
(top) Junior Taloria Wheeler and sophomore Jordan Stapp prepare to milk cows at the dairy.

The program just established its fourth major curriculum revision as of fall 2014. Big changes include a new set of concentration pathways for all animal science majors.

The animal science major is now split between a pre-professional track for students who are planning on attending veterinary or graduate school and a production and management track for students who want to work in the agriculture industry.

“What we basically did was two-fold … we had an animal science program that was more individually developed on a one-on-one basis,” Gallagher said. “We really created a much more described set of concentrations.”

Gallagher also pointed out that some of the major requirements for the animal science program have changed. The department reduced the required number of courses, so students will have more flexibility within the program.

“It frees people up to do minors, or to double major,” Gallagher said. “If you have a minor in something like Spanish, communications, business—anything that’s totally different than just the sciences—that’s a huge benefit.”

It is benefits like these that have boosted the acceptance rate of Berry’s students into pre-professional programs. Gallagher said the national average acceptance rate for undergraduates to be accepted to veterinarian schools is between 30 and 35 percent, but Berry’s average acceptance rate for students entering into veterinary school is over 90 percent.

The recent changes enacted by the department will continue to help students remain competitive for pre-professional programs.

“Recently, we focused on creating a strong, science-based curriculum … that best fit our students,” Gallagher said. “Even if they don’t want to go to graduate school now, they would still be set up to do that in the future.”

The animal science major program has more changes in the near future. Plans for new animal science laboratories and an additional wing added on to McAllister Hall for animal science classrooms and offices are currently in the works.

“The brief amount of time I’ve had in Westcott—it feels like a little home,” sophomore animal science major Henry Winsor said. “But having better facilities is always a good thing.”

However, even before these changes, many students were drawn to Berry’s program because of its reputation and strong standing with veterinary schools.

“Berry has… probably the best, most involved animal science program in the region,” sophomore Rachel Botta, the head milker at the dairy, said.

Many other students in the program share her sentiment.

Sophomore Tyler Jagt, a double major in English and visual communication, is in the process of changing to an animal science major.

“I realized that (communication) just isn’t for me,” Jagt said. “I decided to join the animal science program … I grew up on a farm and I’m really good with animals.”

Jagt had heard from people in the area that Berry has one of the most renowned programs in the South, specifically for animal science.

“I know it has a very good reputation with graduate schools,” Jagt said. “I will hopefully be going to a graduate school after this and then on to become a veterinarian.”

Winsor is pleased with the opportunities that the program offers.

“It’s rare for a school Berry’s size to have its own animal science program,” Winsor said. “I’m from the city, so I get to learn a lot, both from students who are from more rural areas … where people live and work on farms and also from hands-on experience with animals in labs.”

Winsor was drawn to Berry’s animal science program because of the good reputation it has with veterinary schools.

“I feel like it’s definitely doing a good job preparing me for vet school,” Winsor said. “I’m learning a lot.”

Botta is encouraged by the way the program sets students to have a more realistic perspective of animal science. She came into the program knowing that she wanted to do something in animal science, but her previous line of experience had mostly been with felines.

“I had no idea I even cared about cows or large animals at all,” Botta said. “But now after working at the dairy I definitely want to continue working with cows.”

She appreciates the hands-on experience that Berry provides, and believes that it really sets students up to understand the type of work they’ll be doing in animal science related fields.

“Animal science at Berry isn’t always about puppies and kitties,” Botta said. “Sometimes it’s about plunging your arm into a cow’s rectum.” 

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