Exploring unknown classes

By: Morgan Rehberg
In the fall of 2012, I was an economics major in the College of Letters and Science taking classes in data management, social research methods, statistics in economics, and microeconomic theory. I decided to add the introductory Animal Science course, Livestock Production, to change up my schedule and learn about the foundations of Wisconsin’s agriculture. This course changed my academic career. Each unit, ranging from animal genetics to hedging, brought a new professor from a different department within CALS to talk to us, and as a class of many first-semester students, it certainly broadened our views on the opportunities available in agriculture. I learned quickly that I wanted to focus my studies in agricultural economics, but I explored within animal science the following semester by taking a small class called the Environmental Impacts of Livestock Production. This class featured a fusion of online lectures from a variety of experts from CALS, UW-Extension, and governmental agencies primarily about dealing with manure. Although it was very challenging and required a significant time commitment, I fell in love with the subject matter. It became my favorite class to discuss with everyone from close friends to parents of my high school roommates. I learned enough in-depth information about the challenges and opportunities in manure management that I started working in runoff management at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and hope to continue studying manure management in the context of sustainability. This is something I will continue studying through independent research and perhaps incorporate into my senior capstone project. I am so thankful for being drawn to the introductory animal science class because it helped me find my specific area of interest within economics, and I encourage students to take advantage of the flexibility that UW offers to students of any major. Take a class because it sounds interesting or because you heard good things about it! At the very least, it will offer you new perspectives and balance with different types of classes, and you never know, it could shape your academic career.