A Drive for Animal Science Degrees

March 10, 2021

Jacquelyn Prestegaard has a special affinity for farm animals. Her affection for bovines, in particular, began with visits to her grandparent’s beef farm and showing cattle.

“I showed beef cattle in 4-H for almost 10 years, which definitely played a part in my college major,” said Jacquelyn.

Jacquelyn showed beef cattle throughout her youth so seeing her gripping the halter of a dairy calf seems odd. That is, until she began working with dairy at Virginia Tech as part of research for obtaining her doctorate degree.

The Waterman-based country girl graduated from Indian Creek High School and headed to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign to earn her bachelor’s degree in animal science. At Illinois, she worked in their large animal labs thinking that she would become a veterinarian someday.

But instead she chose the animal science academia path. After Illinois she went to the University of Missouri to obtain a master’s degree in animal science and then Virginia Tech where she will soon complete her PhD in dairy science.

During the summer of her sophomore year in college, Jacquelyn interned at DeKalb County Farm Bureau. She explained her cattle showing techniques to teachers at the Summer Ag Institute in 2013. As a junior and senior at the University of Illinois she earned Farm Bureau scholarships.

On course to get her doctorate degree, she currently is conducting research around dairy cattle nutrition as a graduate research assistant. “My research specifically concentrates on nutritional strategies that minimize environmental waste by cows and maximizes economic returns for producers,” said Jacquelyn.

Jacquelyn’s decade of university studies align with her passions of science, agriculture and education.

Her drive for animal science degrees will eventually lead to university teaching or becoming a nutritionist in the animal industry. She’s leaving her options open with her immediate focus on her dissertation for her PhD.

Looking back on the past, Jacquelyn remembers the summer of her sophomore college year when she was a communications intern at DeKalb County Farm Bureau. She assisted with Ag in the Classroom, the Summer Ag Institute and writing for the Farm Bureau newspaper. She also created videos that spotlighted local farmers on YouTube.

During her junior and senior years in college she received Farm Bureau college scholarships. “Receiving DeKalb County Farm Bureau scholarships undoubtedly alleviated some of the financial pressure of attending college,” said a grateful Jacquelyn.

The 28-year-old has a promising future ahead of her utilizing her animal science degrees.

This summer she plans to marry her fiancé, Bain, whom she met at the U of I. Bain, PhD, is an assistant professor of beef nutrition at Virginia-Tech. “We have similar career paths which will continue in academia or lead to industry-related jobs,” stated Jacquelyn.