Morris Finds Ways to Improve Environment of Weaned Pig

( Photo provided by Jenny Morris )

Meet Jenny Morris, our latest addition to Farm Journal's PORK's Up & Coming Leaders feature. We are showcasing some of the fresh, new voices of the pork industry who combine innovative thought and work ethic with scientific savvy and a passion to make a difference. 

Age: 29
Education: Bachelor’s degree, St. Ambrose University; master’s degree and currently pursuing Ph.D. in swine production under the supervision of Dr. Mike Ellis, University of Illinois
Hometown: Springfield, IL

Q. How did you become interested in a career in the swine industry?
Originally my plan was to go to veterinary school. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I served a year with AmeriCorps before applying to vet school. During that time, I was in North Carolina and decided to work at a pig nursery unit before my day work with AmeriCorps and on the weekends to gain more hands-on experience. I instantly uncovered a passion for the pig industry. I was intrigued with the complexity of the system and wanted to know more. The producer I worked for told me about the Maschhoffs since I was returning to Illinois. I applied for a job at The Maschhoffs and was hired in the research and development department. From there, I connected with Dr. Mike Ellis’ lab at the University of Illinois and have been here since.

Q. Tell us about your internship experiences.
While pursuing my master’s degree, I was able to intern with the Maschhoffs where I worked with multiple people throughout the company to gain a better understanding of the business.

Q. Describe any undergraduate research experiences you’ve had. 
Unfortunately, I did not have any undergraduate research experience. My advice for undergrads would be to get involved with research. However, don’t let that deter you from looking into graduate school if that is not possible for your schedule.

Q. What other learning opportunities have you been involved in?
I was recently selected to be a member of the 2020 Illinois Pork Producers Association’s Future Leaders Program. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to expand my knowledge of the industry.

Q. Tell us about your current research.
Weaning is one of the most stressful times in a pig’s life. In the past 10 years, the weaned pig has changed, yet there has been little updated research. I am currently studying how to improve the environment of the newly weaned pig. This includes research on barn conditions, housing and nutrition. Producers can use this information to discern how to improve the methods they employ at weaning to care for their pigs.

Q. What do you think will be the greatest challenge for your generation going into the swine industry today?
One of the greatest challenges currently facing the industry is lack of access to quality labor. We need to do a better job of marketing ourselves to the entire population so that we do not miss out on valuable people with animal, technology and environmental knowledge. 

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