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Animal sciences graduate creates resources for horse owners during COVID-19

headshot of aly morrison

When Aly Morrison was approached about creating national resources for horse owners on essential equine care and personal preparedness plans during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, she immediately offered her design skills and talents.

Since October 2019, Morrison, a spring 2020 animal sciences graduate from the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), had been developing infographic resources for Florida horse owners with an emphasis on best management practices for water resource protection with UF assistant professor and Extension equine specialist Carissa Wickens. As a student assistant under Carissa’s supervision, Morrison worked with Wickens to coordinate with colleagues across land-grant universities to develop COVID-19 resources for horse owners.

Wickens and equine professionals at other land-grant universities across the country received several questions regarding biosecurity and sanitation protocols from county Extension agents, horse owners, horse groups and other clientele. The team also identified the need to assist equine facilities in discerning essential versus non-essential activities under the stay-at-home directives. Morrison, from Jupiter, Florida, took science-based information and transformed it into visually engaging and concise fact sheets for distribution across all 50 states.

“Aly has been so professional, hard-working, detail-oriented and attentive to the time-sensitive nature of the team’s response,” Wickens said. “This is a unique example of taking a tough, challenging situation as a student in quarantine and channeling the adjustment to social distancing, use of technology and her design talents into an engagement opportunity that is important to the equine industry.”

Wickens mentioned Morrison was “already doing fantastic work making resources for horse owners” and was able to convert her resources to an urgent need.

“The most rewarding part of this project was being able to collaborate with members in academia and share valuable information with the public to guide them through the unprecedented times,” Morrison said. “Our educational resources are concise, easy to read, visual, and reach the intended audiences. It’s also been rewarding to see how far the graphics have gone – we’ve reached hundreds of thousands of people, which is incredible.”

Morrison plans to apply for the master’s degree in animal sciences program through CALS. She hopes to continue working under Wickens on visual resources for those in the equine industry.  For her future career, Morrison aims to combine her academic background in the animal sciences with her graphic design skills.

She credits the careers course in the UF/IFAS Animal Sciences Department with helping her explore different professions available to animal sciences majors. The course connected her with instructor Amie Imler, who then introduced her to Wickens.

“It’s important to be vocal about your career interests and talents with your advisors,” Morrison advised current and prospective students.

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