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Serving: IA

Animal science teacher embraces learning opportunities from pandemic

Matt Wenger ISU animal science instructor Laura Greiner
NEW NORMAL: “Teaching classes is different these days, as the pandemic has changed all of society,” notes ISU animal science instructor Laura Greiner.
ISU instructor educates students on the benefits of animal agriculture for consumers.

Passion and purpose. These two words describe Dr. Laura Greiner’s everyday approach to her profession and her students. She concentrates her passion of animal agriculture into her purpose of educating others on the benefits of animal agriculture for consumers.

Since joining the Iowa State University’s animal science department and Iowa Pork Industry Center in 2018, Greiner has worked in teaching and research in her primary emphasis area of swine production and nutrition. In addition to teaching and working with ISU Extension, Greiner has four graduate students involved in various projects in swine nutrition and physiology. When COVID-19 became a reality, some of the projects had to change due to packing plant closures.

Managing challenges

“COVID has given us learning opportunities and some good direction at the same time,” she says. “We've focused in the last four months on how to help swine producers manage through the challenges; how to slow down growth rates on pigs to manage the disruptions of flow through production facilities and going to market.”

Opportunities for Greiner and colleagues in ISU’s animal science department that have arisen due to COVID-19 include finding ways to better prepare for foreign diseases, evaluation of compensatory growth, and managing swine diet programs when holding pigs from the market.

“Rather than euthanization being the only option when there is a disruption in the market, other options are now available,” she notes.

COVID-19 has also provided opportunities to find gaps that need to be addressed. One of those gaps was people not being prepared to handle a potential mass euthanasia.

“We weren’t mentally prepared for how long it would take to euthanize animals,” Greiner says. “We now have a new perspective on ensuring more effective strategies for euthanization in the future.”

Teaching in COVID-19 era

In addition to her research, Greiner is an instructor for two ISU courses: Introduction to Pork Production (AN S 225) and the Pork Fellows class (AN S 480C), which brings people from the hog industry to talk to students about current issues. She also teaches an ISU online course (AN S 280) for individuals in the industry who want more background on basic swine science.

Through her work and in her approach to life, Greiner continues to pursue her passion of animal agriculture through new opportunities of educating others. “Life takes you wherever. You just have to be open to the experience and opportunities,” she says.

Elsbernd is a student communications assistant for the Iowa Pork Industry Center at ISU.
 
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