Midterm elections are just behind us, and a handful of veterinarians have taken posts on Capitol Hill. They are Congressional Science Fellows from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
The AVMA fellowship program is funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and sponsored through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which places scientific experts in congressional offices where they are needed. To date, more than 60 veterinarians have participated in the AVMA program.
Dr. Elise Ackley will be working alongside Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) (Durbin is the second highest-ranking democrat in the U.S. Senate); Dr. Chase Crawford will be assisting Sen. Al Franken of (D-Minnesota); and Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse has taken a position with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska).
Throughout their yearlong assignments, the three AVMA fellows will advise the members of Congress they are working with on a variety of policy issues, including biosecurity, appropriations, agriculture, food safety, animal health and welfare, and public health.
Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division, tells the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association News, “Across the nation and around the world, we are facing incredible animal and public health and environmental challenges. Veterinarians like Ackley, Crawford, and La Jeunesse have a unique opportunity to use their scientific training and expertise to help our nation’s leaders craft sound legislative policies that will enhance animal health and welfare, protect our food supply, promote public health, and preserve our environment for the future.”
The three fellows were selected out of 20 applicants earlier this year after completing a three-phase, competitive selection process. They will serve as full-time employees to their members of Congress, supporting the needs and activities of their respective congressional offices, until August 2015.
Dr. Ackley, a native of Shreveport, La., and a 2014 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, will concentrate on public health and higher education issues; Dr. Crawford, a native from Houston and a 2014 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, will focus primarily on agricultural issues; and Dr. La Jeunesse of Port Orchard, Washington, and a 1983 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, will work on international development issues.