UF/IFAS Animal Sciences Ambassador Program

The UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences (ANS) Ambassador Program is designed to involve exceptional undergraduate students in recruitment and stakeholder engagement. These students serve as the department’s official representatives. Students who are selected as ambassadors help guide prospective student tours and conduct ANS events, such as the Small Ruminant Short Course or Open Gate event.  

Taylor McKinney, ANS junior, is finishing her first year as an animal sciences ambassador. She applied to be an ambassador because she has a passion for the department and animal agriculture. McKinney thinks this passion is a vital characteristic for those applying for the 2023-2024 Animal Sciences Ambassador Team. 

ANS Ambassadors with prospective student in class.
ANS Ambassadors Taylor McKinney (second from left) and Douglas Natoce (far right) with a Spring 2023 Have You HERD participant in the Food Animal Nutrition lab.

“Potential ANS ambassadors should expect a year of sharing their love for animal sciences with prospective students, learning even more about our department through training and departmental events, and building bonds with advisors and fellow ambassadors,” said McKinney

Ambassador candidates should also expect to be involved with departmental events at least once a month. Graduating ANS senior, Emma Lipori, has been on the ANS ambassador team for two years. She said the time commitment is minimal, with only a few mandatory events each semester.  

ANS Ambassadors serving food at the Small Ruminant Short Course.
ANS Ambassadors at the Ram Test Sale and Small Ruminant Short Course. Photo taken 09-17-22.

“The program gives you extensive opportunities to become more involved within the department, which I highly recommend. The more time you put into this program outside of the minimal requirements, the more you will learn and grow,” said Lipori.  

Ambassadors are expected to attend monthly team meetings, all mandatory events, and accumulate participation points each semester. Participation points are obtained through helping with non-mandatory events, such as student tours and smaller departmental events. 

Candidates should anticipate being challenged to grow professionally. Students will need to be flexible, professional, and open to networking with ANS stakeholders. They will also develop skills such as time management, organization, and communication.  

“As an ambassador, one of the most important skills you will learn is communication. We have to be fun and engaging, yet still maintain professionalism. Speaking in this manner is surprisingly challenging, but the ambassador program provides us with lots of information and mentors to help us learn to do so effectively,” said Lipori.  


ANS Ambassador and Open Gate participants.
ANS Ambassador Payton Rethmel assisting at the palpation station during the 2023 Open Gate event.

Karina Vestergaard, ANS junior, is also finishing her first year as an ANS ambassador. As an International student from Peru, Vestergaard did not get the opportunity to interact with the department like a traditional student. She thought the Ambassador program would help her become more connected with it.  

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about the ANS department and the people within it. Everyone has a unique story and is doing amazing work, and as an ambassador you get to share that information with others,” said Vestergaard.  

To apply to become an ambassador visit https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2aVE5seAUfo7sdU 

Find more information about the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences at https://animal.ifas.ufl.edu/. 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: March 20, 2023

Category: Agriculture, Professional Development, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Animal Sciences, Ans, Opportunity, Student Ambassadors, UF Animal Science, Undergraduate

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