AETA 2012 Scholarship Winner: Eric Rooker

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Published on: December 21, 2012

Winnipeg, Canada greeted me with 50 mph winds and sold out hotels, but sent me home with a pocket full of business cards, a cell phone full of new peer connections, and a renewed outlook on my future in the bovine industry.  In the days leading up to my first American Embryo Transfer Association Conference I began to worry some that I would have trouble meeting my objective of networking with potential peers and future employers, and being as shy as I am, I would end up being just another face in the crowd.  Needless to say, I should not have worried.  The very first day I was greeted by Jeremy Holzner who was instrumental in directing me to the annual meeting and was also gracious enough to sign me up for ET 101.  While standing outside the doors of my first lecture, I turned to see two mentors and friends in the crowd; Dr. Byron Williams of EmQuest and Dr. John Rathje of Grantsburg, WI who were two veterinarians that I have looked up to since I was a young boy back in my hometown.  These two well respected veterinarians were the first among MANY who greeted me with open arms, advice, and totally unexpected but much appreciated meals.  With my worries aside, and friends in my midst, I walked with confidence into my first seminar; ET 101.

ET 101 proved to be one of the best seminars I have ever had the pleasure to attend.  It also helped me fulfill my second objective of learning how to break into the advanced reproductive services industry.  Doctors Hinshaw and Whitaker proved to be dynamic speakers who took a subject that is always discussed with much technicality and brought it down to the level of a novice.  They offered me great advice on how to integrate myself with a current practitioner through a three step plan, as well as, what tools of the trade to not cut corners on (microscope and freezer) and which tools I could be a bit more frugal with.  They also explained the difference between the current market superovulation drugs and why you would use one drug with and increased FSH:LH ratio over another, in addition to, what drugs to go to if an animal should develop a resistance to their FSH stimulant.  We were able to discuss baseline superovulation and recipient synchronization at a level a beginner could understand without the classic discussion of tweaking the dose of each shot.  We were shown expected baseline benchmarks for pregnancy in an ART system and what you should be striving for grade and stage pregnancy wise.  We touched on the financial aspects, (what we could expect as reasonable fees and costs) and recuperating from disasters such as an accidental spill of a dish.  Learning from some of the leading researchers and practitioners in the industry was just one of many opportunities AETA provided me during the conference.  Other areas of interest that I found to be very informative were topics ranging from how to implement a newly developed five day CIDR program, genomics and its uses, and the effects of nutrition on reproductive performance in our donors and recipients.

The conference also offered me an opportunity to interact with industry representatives at an individual level since the conference was smaller than other industry conferences I had previously attended.  I was able to learn much about emerging technologies ranging from hormonal assays, embryo freezers and new media.  AETA also offered me a chance to join in discussions with practitioners that were talking with industry representatives about pricing and company product selection.  It was enlightening to see the interactions between the two parties, as well as, discussions about the reasons for selecting the company they received different supplies from.  Yet again, the practitioners were teaching me even when I didn’t realize it.

Finally, I would like to thank the many practitioners that took time out of their day to talk with me, who gave me advise on my job hunt, encouraged me to continue my pursuit in this field even though at times it is challenging to get experience when in school, and offered very valuable practice advise.  I would be remiss to forget to thank the practitioners that took me out to dinner. Your camaraderie made the conference even more of a joy to attend; thank you for reaching out to me.  Again, I would like to thank the AETA and all the members for honoring me with this scholarship.  I truly look forward to working with many of you in the future.

Eric Rooker


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