April 12, 2018

Student Team Wins Award for One Health Efforts

The student organizers of Iowa One Health Day 2017 gain recognition for their work in bringing this important movement to the forefront.
By Kerry Lengyel
One Health Day—an international campaign launched in 2016 by the One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative, and the One Health Platform Foundation—is celebrated every year on November 3. Related events around the world help promote the campaign’s focus on improving quality of life for all humans, animals, and plants through collaborative efforts across various disciplines.

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The goal of One Health Day is to engage as many people as possible through education and awareness events, and the concept is gaining momentum. In 2017, the day was commemorated in more than 115 worldwide events, many of which were student led and part of the One Health Day Student Events Competition.
 

Iowa One Health Conference

Two student teams were recognized for their One Health Day campaigns and events and will be awarded $2000 for their efforts. One team, Iowa One Health—a group of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as recent graduates, from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University—organized the second Iowa One Health Conference on October 14, 2017, at the University of Iowa College of Public Health in Iowa City.

“The whole plan for the 2017 Iowa One Health Conference was for it to be bigger and better than the first one,” said conference co-chair Neil Vezeau, a first-year veterinary student at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “and we certainly did that.”

Open to the public, the conference boasted multiple sessions led by professionals to help increase students’ understanding of the One Health concept. The conference was divided into 2 tracks: geographic information systems and professional development, both of which can be applied broadly across the sciences.

Vezeau said one of the group’s biggest goals was to increase collaboration among Iowa universities and colleges. “Through sponsorship, attendees, planning team members, and conference speakers, we had participation from every major college or university within the state of Iowa,” Vezeau said. The group even gained government advocacy with a gubernatorial proclamation of November as Iowa One Health Month.
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture predoctoral fellow Karl Kerns, PhD candidate, gives a lecture at the 2017 Iowa One Health Conference.
The professionals who presented at the conference helped it stand out among other student-led events, according to Vezeau. “It can actually be kind of a logistical challenge to get national- or international-level speakers out here,” he said. “I think one of the big differences between our event and other events competing for these sorts of grants is that we were actively bringing in or flying in or driving in people to come speak at the conference.”

The 2017 Iowa One Health Conference also took first place in the 2017 Student American Veterinary Medical Association One Health Grand Challenge, which awarded the student group $1700 toward the event.
 

Looking Forward

Although Vezeau has stepped down as cochair of the Iowa One Health Conference, he is excited to see what’s in store for the 2018 event. “The hope is that it will continue to be a massive collaboration. Our planning team last year was 20 people strong, including people from 15-plus fields,” he said. “It was an extremely collaborative venture, and there’s no doubt that it will continue to be as such.”

The 2 winners of the One Health Day Student Events Competition will be officially awarded their prizes at the 5th International One Health Congress, to be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in June.

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