Animal caretaker: Elisabeth Loseke develops love for livestock at family feedyard
Ryan and June Loseke have always said, “The best investments a person can make are in land and education.”
Their daughter Elisabeth has taken their advice to heart. She is a sixth generation livestock producer, a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a first year veterinary student.
“I learned my numbers by riding pens with my mom and reading ear tags.” Loseke said. “I learned how to detect sick cattle and I still remember the first time my dad let me ride into a pen alone and the first time I pulled a sick steer by myself.”
Loseke’s parents are both veterinarians and own a feedlot and farming operation north of Columbus, Neb. By accompanying her parents on vet calls, Loseke has been able to see the realities of being a large animal vet; the good, the bad and the ugly.
“My parents gave me my first heifers when I was 8 and through the years of participating in 4-H and FFA I grew my herd. My steers now are helping to fund my vet school.” Loseke said.
“As a vet I’m looking forward to giving back and being a voice for the beef industry,” Loseke said. “As a food animal vet, I see it as a future food safety vet, working for sustainability and being a voice for producers. People are more apt to listen to a veterinarian; they have a level of creditability. In vet school we take an animal welfare class, which gives more credibility with a degree.”
She sees it as an exciting time to be in vet school, learning how to prevent disease, decrease antibiotic use and increase sustainability and efficiency along with disease treatment.
She has been awarded a number of scholarships including recently a $7,500 one through the Certified Angus Beef Colvin Scholarship Fund. “The Ag and beef industries are very good at promoting education, and I look forward to being able to give back to others.” Loseke said.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
According to Thomas Field the director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at UNL. “Liz is very smart about the cost of school and debt and has worked hard to look for opportunities, but she sees it as an investment that she will work hard to give back to others.”
Field has known Loseke for several years. “I feel she has taken the very best of her upbringing, and by learning from everything she has built a great foundation,” he said. “Her whole life has been preparing her for her future. If I were a betting man, I would bet that she will be a difference maker for the rest of her life.”
He also said that Loseke has been willing to take risks and step out of her comfort zone to learn more. “Most students will work with one vet; she worked with at least three different vets over a three-month period. Liz is a very bright, kind, genuine human, very mature, a thinker, disciplined, truly a sweet, servant leader who lives out her values and character and a good and powerful student.”
“A good vet has to love it and to be able to deal with people not just animals,” Field said. “I feel that the system is flawed in colleges, it’s driven by a GPA race, but I would rather have a vet with a little lower GPA and some common sense. It’s harder to find and access a vet who has a strong commitment to large animals, and empathy for clients. We need vets who understand the clients’ management systems. I think distance technology will make it easier with virtual tech and communications so that they won’t have to spend so much time on the road. Vets who understand science and apply the knowledge will make a huge difference.”
A DYING BREED
Large animal veterinarians in rural areas are becoming fewer especially as many of them are older and the ones in business are extremely over worked, basically on call 24/7 and the work is physically very hard on the human body. Many young vet students take this into consideration along with the escalating cost of school thus making a small animal or corporate practice far more appealing. The U.S Census Bureau anticipates a possible national shortage of 15,000 veterinarians by 2025, with the bulk of them needed in rural areas. There are now programs in place and being worked on to help vet students with loan repayment programs if they are willing to work as large food animal veterinarians for at least three years. There is a lot of specialization in veterinary medicine now, but a balance of large and small animals can be achieved by those willing to work hard.
Loseke has taken advantage of the 2 plus 2 program that UNL has with Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ames. She will take her first two years of veterinary medicine at UNL and then transfer to Iowa State to complete her studies and graduate. This program allows students to develop connections with other Nebraskans and build cohorts in the state.
Loseke is getting married in June to Braden Forker, they plan on ranching and raising cattle together in Nebraska once she graduates from Iowa State. “I first met Braden when he was working for my mom’s family, they were testing bulls and I tagged along. He talked to my brothers more than me. The first time he came to visit we sorted cattle together. Most of the time we are together it involves cattle. He is from a ranching family as well.”
Loseke feels that this is a great time for young people to get involved in the world of agriculture especially with the large turnover in land and aging producers. “This opens a lot of doors for those who are willing to work hard.” ❖