Student Spotlight: Glenda Pereira
Name: Glenda Pereira
Hometown: São Miguel – Azores, Portugal
Degree Pursuing: M.S. in Animal Science
Advisor: Dr. Bradley Heins
Research Focus: Dairy cattle welfare and behavior
Why did you choose your current field of study?
Family and passion. Growing up, I spent countless nights watching my dad help deliver calves and more times than not you could find me in the middle of a field with cows. As an undergraduate student, my plan was to become a large animal veterinarian. By the time my senior year approached, I knew I wanted to improve the well-being of dairy cattle by pursuing a Master’s degree in Animal Science.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
I choose the University of Minnesota because of its uniqueness and the diversity found at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris, MN. The WCROC organic grazing dairy herd is one of the few organic research herds in the Unites States, and has many different breeds of dairy cattle. In addition, not many other grazing dairy research herds are working on behavioral studies of dairy cattle on pasture. With the growing number of grazing cattle in the United States, I believe it is important to research how incorporating precision dairy technologies in pasture-based systems could help improve the sustainability and profitability of grazing dairy cattle. There are always different dairy projects happening at the WCROC, and some of those projects integrate with other systems such as renewable energy, swine production, and agronomy, which has allowed me to broaden my horizons.
In what ways has your involvement at the WCROC enhanced your educational experience?
My involvement at the WCROC has enhanced my educational experience by allowing me the opportunity to learn through academics how to better apply grazing practices and manage dairy cattle out on the field, and then take it the next step by sharing results and engage in conversation with producers.
What has been a highlight during your time at the WCROC?
There have been many highlights during my time here at the WCROC. The first, and most important, has been the cows and the people. I’ve gotten to know many of the dairy cows here at the WCROC; they are more than just a number to me. During my time at the WCROC, I’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous faculty and staff that have provided me with valuable experiences: Brad Heins and Ron Erickson (WCROC farm animal attendant) have served as great mentors to me. My second highlight has been working with the community. This past summer, I was able to work closely with the 4-H students on their dairy animal projects, and I was very involved in farmer-researcher discussion groups.
What are your future plans?
I plan to enroll for a PhD program at the U of MN in the fall of 2017, and will continue to work with the same dairy herd and advisor at the WCROC. I will focus on welfare and management of dairy cattle, as well as look at integrating some breed genetics within the diverse dairy herd at the WCROC.