Iowa State University veterinary students talk pork

AMES, Iowa -- As a third-year student at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Jessika Uden learns new skills every day. But after listening to reports about the pork industry during the past year, Uden decided that she wanted to learn another skill -- to be an effective spokesperson for her industry.

Uden participated in a speaker program offered by the National Pork Board last fall, and brought the program to fellow veterinary students this spring. Twenty-five other members of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians student club at Iowa State took part in the training last month.

"The program, Operation Main Street, trains people who are involved in the pork industry on how to talk about the industry to the public," Uden said.

"Veterinary students are a great, untapped voice for the pork industry," she said. "Students want to talk about their industry and how those in the industry care for their animals to provide safe and wholesome foods."

Second-year veterinary student Peter Schneider participated in the session at Iowa State, and volunteered to be interviewed by a former reporter from Kansas City.

"The mock interview was probably the best practice I've had in preparing me to answer tough questions," Schneider said. "It brought home the point that preparation is the key to delivering an effective message."

For veterinary students, and others, an often-cited obstacle to becoming an effective spokesperson is fear. The OMS program helps speakers gain confidence and become comfortable when speaking to the public.

"Having gone through the training, I am better prepared to talk about the industry -- not just to the media -- but also to my future clients and people in my community who are unfamiliar with the pork industry," Uden said.