Amy Nesselrodt, Veterinary Medical Field Officer
What is your current role with PDA?
I am a field-based veterinarian whose duties include enforcing the Domestic Animal Law, working with livestock quality assurance programs, and helping to prevent and/or eradicate major livestock diseases. I cover ten counties and supervise two domestic animal health technicians.
How long were you in the 4-H Program and what was your focus?
I was in 4-H for about eight years and participated in two clubs. I was in a seeing-eye-puppy-raising club where members raised, trained and socialized future seeing-eye guide dogs. And, I was a member of a club that concentrated on dog care and training. In that club, I worked with my own dog.
What was your favorite part of 4-H?
I loved 4-H because it was a place where my love for animals was supported, and I did not feel like an outsider. I was encouraged to believe in myself and my dreams. I was a shy teen growing up, but in 4-H, I found acceptance and belonging. My favorite activity was the seeing-eye-puppy camp. I enjoyed learning about training dogs. One of my seeing-eye foster dogs, a yellow lab named Durin, saved me from being brutally attacked in the woods as a teen. Kind of a long story, but I owe Durin and 4-H a debt of eternal gratitude.
What’s the most important lesson you learned from it?
In 4-H, teens are encouraged to do public speaking. As a shy teen, this was a challenge for me. However, I found that I actually enjoyed sharing my love and knowledge of animals with others.
The seeing-eye puppy project taught me that giving to others is the best gift we can give to ourselves. Yes, it was very hard to return the dogs I loved back to the seeing-eye program, but the feeling of knowing a puppy I raised helped someone obtain their independence was invaluable.
How did 4-H prepare you for the job you have today?
4-H helped me to believe in myself. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time and was constantly told by teachers, counselors, and family that I should find some other goal…that I would never make it. That was back when it was extremely difficult to get into veterinary school and fewer women were admitted. In 4-H, you are encouraged to reach for your dreams and not think about your limits. I learned a lot about public speaking, gained self-confidence, and had my first article, which was on how it felt to give Durin back to the seeing-eye program, published in a national dog magazine. My job today relies heavily on verbal and written communication, and 4-H helped me become strong in those areas. Public speaking is a big part of my job!