Hi everyone! My name is Molly Stamm and I am a senior majoring in Agricultural Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over the last 12 weeks, I had the opportunity to intern with the International Veterinary Health team at Merck Animal Health.
Throughout the summer, I was able to support the team in their marketing and communications activities. My responsibilities included analyzing current team initiatives, like the Rabies Hero Awards, to provide added value and structure, write content for internal and external audiences on the emergence and corporate animal health sites and help organize the team’s twitter activities. In order to further support the team’s presence on social media, I also created a research report which provided insights into social media trends in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as usage trends on a global level.
While I was primarily able to hone my communications skills, I also had the opportunity to learn about transboundary and emerging diseases. As my major states, my coursework focuses on communicating agricultural concepts in ways that those outside of the industry can understand. While we are taught to discuss the intricacies of food production to provide insight into how food gets from farm to table, a topic we don’t necessarily address is the animal health side of livestock production and its role in not only providing a safe, abundant global food supply, but its impact on farmer livelihoods, as well.
Prior to starting this internship, I had no idea how large of an impact animal disease had on livestock operations, especially in countries less developed than the United States.
Learning that disease in livestock populations is a main contributor to keeping third world countries in poverty was eye opening and truly put things into perspective for me.
Agriculture is universal and its scope extends far beyond the confines of my university.
Just because you don’t see something with your own eyes, does not mean it doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t a struggle for someone else.
Fighting these transboundary diseases which affect livestock species is paramount to not only improving lives but helping support economies in developing countries to lift them out of poverty.
In addition, working to combat animal disease among species also improves their well-being, something I, and the International Veterinary Health team, feel strongly about.
The benefits to disseminating information pertaining to these diseases to the right audiences can make a difference not only in endemic areas where disease runs rampant, but globally, as even in disease-free countries, preparation for an outbreak is important due to the constantly evolving nature of disease and human activities which can reintroduce illness into previously clean countries. Although my internship was virtual, I am leaving with more than what I came in with. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most passionate, dedicated individuals in the field and I hope to someday make a difference as great as they have. For now, I’m still “emerging” into that girl.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health.