Animal Health Technician
College of Veterinary Medicine
MSU Starkville Campus
Years in Position: 11
Years at MSU: 11
When she was a child, Emily Childers filled a bathtub with spiders because she considered them her friends. It is no surprise, then, that she works as an Animal Health Technician for the Shelter Medicine program at Mississippi State University.
“I think I was meant to work with animals,” Childers said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
She fulfills this goal by leaving campus at 7:30 a.m. every morning. With a team of doctors, technicians, and students, Emily travels on a mobile unit that will arrive at one of five different animal shelters in North Mississippi.
The mobile unit, founded 11 years ago, proves especially important to Childers, because she was one of the inaugural technicians on board. Though she hopes to do this work forever, she said that it can be demanding.
“On a typical day, I work on a 38-foot gooseneck. We have three different surgeries going at a time, which medical students perform, and then the rest of us spay and neuter,” Childers said.
Her unit spays and neuters up to 30 animals a day, free of charge to any shelter. They do this with one goal in mind: to save lives.
Childers says that spaying and neutering helps lower the intense animal population rates in the South. Warm yearly weather and a lack of strict neutering laws for pet owners contribute to filling shelters that are already overwhelmed. Ultimately, she said her work helps make “adoptable animals more adoptable.”
Another positive aspect of Childers’ job is the hands-on education it provides students and the community. Students in the veterinary medicine program perform surgeries each day with the supervision of a doctor, and their work encourages community members to adopt, spay, or neuter animals.
“It’s fun. It’s never boring, always high pace, and it keeps you on your toes,” Childers said.
When she is not at work, Childers still saves lives. She fosters many animals – especially cats -- through MSU’s Homeward Bound program.
MAFES Joe Bearden
Dairy Research Center
Years in Position: 8 mo
Years at MSU: 1 year
The next time you reach for a glass of milk or enjoy a bowl of chocolate ice cream, you might think of Carly Becker.
Becker, an assistant herder at the Joe Bearden Dairy Research Center at Mississippi State University, rises before the sun each morning to take care of cows.
“I glance over the cows and make sure everyone looks healthy. I feed the calves milk, give them water and make sure everyone has energy,” Becker said. “Depending on the day, we are moving cows to different areas of the farm, breeding, giving vaccinations, registering animals, making sure all equipment is running properly, and keeping everything clean.”
Also a master’s student in animal and dairy sciences, Becker, in study and in practice, works tirelessly for the betterment of animals.
“Farmers are the hardest working people you will ever meet. It is a 24/7 job, because the cows have to be milked -- and unfortunately they don’t celebrate birthdays or Christmas,” Becker said, laughing. “But we are passionate about what we do, making sure the cows are well-fed, comfortable and in good health.”
Becker earned her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from the University of Kentucky.
“Every day is something new and exciting. When working with animals, the day is unpredictable, and there is always a new learning opportunity,” Becker said.
One of her favorite learning opportunities is moving calves from individual hutches to group housing, which happens once every 12 weeks.
“When the calves get off the trailer and realize they are able to run wherever they want, they all go crazy, jump around and buck their back legs. It’s pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and it never gets old,” she said.
At the end of each day, she believes hard work, perseverance, self-motivation and flexibility pull her through early mornings and heavy labor.
“If you are determined, you will be successful,” Becker said.
At each annual DAFVM Summer Celebration, the Staff Spotlight recipients from the previous year will be acknowledged. The DAFVM website will have an archive of all winners listed by month/date.
An employee cannot be chosen more than once during a two (2) year period.