Meet Marjorie Schleper, a fresh, new voice of the pork industry who combines innovative thought and work ethic with scientific savvy and a passion to make a difference.
Hometown: Upsala, Minnesota
Education: Bachelor's degree in animal science, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; currently pursuing DVM at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Q. What is your background in the swine industry?
A. My first exposure to the swine industry took place during the summer of my sophomore year when I worked as a pork production intern with Christensen Farms and fell in love with the industry. As someone who loves puzzles, the complexity of pork production really drew me in. But the piece that finally hooked me was the welcoming and supportive environment.
Q. Tell us about your internship experiences.
A. In addition to interning at Christensen Farms, I participated in two Swine Veterinary Internship Programs through Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. These internships focused on swine health and research. One of my projects was to use ATP-Bioluminescence to evaluate the effectiveness of several different cleaning protocols for farrowing rooms. This uses the same reaction that makes fire flies glow to detect organic material left behind after cleaning. This project and the other experiences during my internships helped me see the big picture of how pork production and health fit together while learning about great improvement opportunities for our industry.
Q. Did you take part in undergraduate research?
A. I didn’t participate in undergraduate research as I focused more on other experiences necessary for acceptance into vet school. However, having more exposure to formalized research earlier in my education would have been helpful. Learning to design and execute my own projects has developed my ability to critically evaluate published research so that I can better understand what the results of that research mean.
Q. What other learning opportunities have you been involved in?
A. I was active in FFA and participated in the creed speaking, extemporaneous and prepared public speaking leadership development events, as well as the horse judging and dairy foods career development events. I served as a chapter, region and state officer. My experiences in FFA played a pivotal role in preparing me for veterinary school and beyond. I have volunteered at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center at the Minnesota State Fair. This is such a great opportunity to share with the public what farmers really do to care for their animals. I enjoyed spending time with the sows and new litters as well as answering questions and sharing interesting factoids with children and adults alike. In addition, I enjoy attending swine-related conferences such as the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting and the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference. I can learn from leading practitioners and researchers while staying up-to-date on the latest information and technology, which is so important in such a fast-paced industry.
Q. Tell us about your current research.
A. I am working in the Mycoplasma Research Lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine. I recently finished a project comparing Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae inoculation techniques for gilt acclimation projects. Finding an effective and safe method of inoculation that is easy to execute is extremely important for obtaining and maintaining stability in the sow herd and ultimately, producing healthier pigs.