Nottingham University veterinary medicine student, Heather Hemingway-Arnold, has clinched the inaugural Farm Vet of the Future Award.
The awards programme, which launched at the Royal Bath and West Show, aims to encourage, support, recognise and celebrate the industry’s young veterinary professionals.
Hemingway-Arnold was handed a £1,000 cash prize from headline sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, after impressing the judges with her masters dissertation on investigating the use of technology and production data to predict lameness in dairy cows.
To win the award, applicants needed to demonstrate a good understanding of disease and on-farm health challenges.
According to Paddy Gordon, director and farm at Shepton Vets and judge, “she showed great insights and self-assurance in presenting to the judges”.
“She really has a good grasp on the future role of farm vets; supporting high UK animal welfare, providing training to farmers and practicing evidence-based veterinary medicine.”
“She also demonstrated adaptability and had a clear understanding of the importance of working within a vet-led team to improve animal health and the efficiency and sustainability of production.”
The large animal veterinary sector is facing challenges with recruitment, as Gordon highlighted.
“We need to proactively help students understand the opportunities in large animal medicine and offer support to those who are dedicated.”
On winning the award, Hemingway-Arnold said that what was most important to her was to “be a true champion of agriculture”.
“I am thrilled to have won the award – it is a shock as I did not expect to win,” she added.
“For me, the farm vet of the future encompasses practicing veterinary medicine and using progressive research and technology in the best possible way to support the growth and sustainability of livestock production, and being active in the support of education, mental health and community.
Runner-up, Aiden Coe, a student at the Royal Veterinary College, mapped out the future of the farm vet as “a custodian of the farming industry”.
“Aiden showed a consideration to how farm vets can actively promote agriculture’s place in modern culture,” said the judge.
“He also showed great ingenuity in his work using infrared camera technology to identify lameness location in cows, and determination to take his research forward.”
On receiving his award, Coe also expressed a keenness to promote more activity in education around agriculture.
“I am very happy to receive the accolade – it is great to receive the recognition,” he said.
“I feel very strongly about education. A lot of the problems the sector faces with perception comes from a gap in public education.”
“Moreover, I want to be more involved in making change, and I believe this award will help me in my endeavours.”
Both students are expecting their final examination results in the coming weeks.
About the awards
The award was open to UK final-year vet students committed to becoming farm vets.
Entrants needed to submit a piece of work demonstrating clinical knowledge and interest (case report, herd health project, elective or dissertation) and 300-500 words outlining what they think the role of a farm vet of the future should look like.
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