UF/IFAS Animal Sciences’ Mentor Month: Carissa Wickens

Faculty member, Carissa Wickens, UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences (ANS) Associate Professor, serves as mentors to our graduate and undergraduate students. She is just one of the ANS faculty who have a significant influence on students’ experience before and after graduation. In honor of  National Mentoring Month, her students shared some of the reasons why she is an outstanding mentor.

Wickens is an Extension Equine Specialist and conducts research focused on equine behavior and management techniques. Wickens is also involved in the University Multicultural Mentor Program, which is a program through the Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement. The program provides first-year undergraduate students with the opportunity to begin building their professional network early on in their academic career. She has served as a mentor since 2018 and has had six mentees during her tenure. Wickens also won the program’s Best Mentor Award in 2022.  

Wickens with UMMP mentee Thaleia Roda.

Nutritional Sciences student Taylor Gardner was Wickens’s mentee in 2021. Gardner said Wickens has always been a friendly face and listening ear for her since arriving at the University of Florida. She said they bonded quickly over their shared love for horses during a tour of the Horse Teaching Unit.  

“Since the beginning of my freshman year, she has consistently been so generous and giving of her time. She is someone I can always come to for questions or if I just need someone to talk to about my day,” said Gardner.  

Wickens (left) with Taylor Gardner (right).

Kelsey Irvine, who is pursuing a Ph.D., has worked alongside Wickens for two years researching youth development and equine science by studying youth perceptions of equine tack. Irvine is a 4-H Youth Development agent in Nassau County, FL. She was originally apprehensive about taking on a Ph.D.  

“Dr. Wickens was the one I approached as a friend and informal mentor when I was first considering taking that leap. It was because of her response and reassurance that I had the confidence to move forward with the idea,” said Irvine.  

Irvine knew Wickens before she began her Ph.D. program through her extension appointment. Irvines says her wealth of knowledge and positive attitude make her a great resource for advising and mentoring. Wickens’s servant’s heart is also one of the characteristics that makes her a valuable mentor.  

Wickens during the Livestock Education and Certification for Agriculture Law Enforcement (LECALE) Training at the Beef (BTU) for Animal Sciences (AS). Photo taken 12-06-22.

“Dr. Wickens challenges me to grow but has flexibility with me when barriers arise. She is always championing for me and I truly could not ask for a better mentor,” Irvine said.  

To connect with or learn more about Dr. Carissa Wickens visit her faculty profile on the ANS website.

Find more information about the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences events on our website. Stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Any questions or inquiries regarding this piece should be directed toward Shelby Thomas at soesterreicher@ufl.edu. Read more stories like this one here: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/animalsciencesdept/. 



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Posted: January 26, 2023

Category: Agriculture, , UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Research, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Advising, Animal Research, Animal Science, Graduate, Mentor, UF Animal Sciences, Undergraduate

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