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Future Vet Blue Hen Eggs
January 12, 2022

On-campus Work with Animals and Student-run Business Sets Path for Future Vet

Shortly after Jacob Bronkema ’23 arrived on campus, he started working on a four-year plan that is preparing him for life after Berry: attending veterinary school and running his own business.

Majoring in animal science and biochemistry, Jacob started out in the student-run enterprise Blue Hen Eggs, caring for 200 chickens each day. As soon as a spot opened up in the Angus Beef Student Enterprise, he jumped at the chance to get experience with cattle and took over as general manager by the start of his junior year. He manages six students in the day-to-day operations of maintaining a herd of 60 animals. Thanks to hands-on labs, Jacob has also worked with sheep and dairy cows. He’s well on his way to accumulating the 1,100 hours of animal experience typically earned by applicants to veterinary programs — while acquiring crucial business skills.

Q. How are your academic courses preparing you?

A. I am a hands-on visual learner, so participating in labs allows me to fully understand what I am learning and the “why” behind what we are doing with certain animals. My various animal science courses also give me an amazing overview of various types and species of animals, which is helping me determine what kind of animals I would like to work with in the future. Berry does an amazing job of providing an overview of all of animal science while also giving depth to each course that I take.

Q. How have you benefited from your managerial role?

A. Having a management role in which I am still encouraged to learn and make mistakes has taught me to be creative and incorporate new ideas or methods. … I am constantly learning how to monitor cows based on their actions, and I have taken the step from following directions as a worker to creating the directions for others . . . While there is much more pressure and responsibility as the general manager of Angus Beef, I feel that I thrive under these conditions.

Q. What have you learned from Berry mentors?

A. Tom Harris [former supervisor in cattle operations] took me under his wing and taught me everything that I know about beef cattle. … Kevin Renshler [director of the Center for Student Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Development] is teaching me how to run the Angus Beef Student Enterprise from a business standpoint. This includes the money involved with a business, the logistics behind creating a product and the customer service/interactions that need to take place to maintain and grow a profitable business. … I have always desired to have my own business one day. Kevin takes this desire to heart day in and day out by teaching me just how many aspects there are to owning, and running, a small business.

Q. What’s your big-picture plan?

A. My long-term career goal is to own my own cattle farm that includes everything from cow-calf pairs, to heifers, to steers. I want to raise the cows for meat but also want to have a southern-rustic event venue that I can rent out. God has given me such a love and appreciation for His creation, both plants and animals, and I want to enable others to experience the things that make me the most happy.

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