Morehead State University senior Audrey Emery, 21, laughs when she says that her mantra is “Shit happens.” For this Kentucky woman, cleaning it up is a big part of what she does daily. Emery is a pre-veterinary medicine student at MSU, and like about 47 other students in the agriculture programs at the school, she gets to live and work on the university’s 350-acre farm known as the Derrickson Agricultural Complex located a few miles from the main campus.
“All of us living out here are a kind of family,” she says. They all have similar interests in working with animals, and they enjoy living on the farm together. “And,” she adds, “you just can’t beat this view.”
Back home in Pendleton County, Kentucky, her family had some land and she had her own horses growing up. It led her to pursue a dream of becoming an equine veterinarian. Seeing the equine facilities at Morehead convinced her it was a place she could be happy. But when she started school, she never imagined one day she would become enamoured with all kinds of farm animals.
“The pigs are my favorites,” she gushes. “Some people don’t like them because they smell, but all animals stink. I just love them all.”
The farm is a research and production facility. A lot of the feed for the horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and even shrimp is raised on the farm. As part of her work-study, Emery participates in the feeding and care of the animals. Cleaning up after them is a big part of that. But she doesn’t mind at all.
“Living and working on a production farm like this, I understand how the systems work and how they affect the animals,” she says. “Understanding these things will make me a much better doctor. In other programs, you don’t get that.” She says this with conviction because she’s said it many times before.
Emery is an ambassador for the farm, conducting farm tours for visitors and recruiting students for the program. She was chosen after going through a rigorous screening process. From the excitement in her voice, you can tell it’s a real honor for her. Another thing she’s quick to point out is the animals produced on the farm become food for the university in the Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus program. Helping to bring healthy and safe food to the other students gives her a sense of pride in what she does.
At this moment, while she is thinking about upcoming exams, Emery is nervous about an impending interview for the veterinary program at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
“You just be you and they’ll be impressed like everyone else,” says farm manager Joe Fraley proudly. “I know she’d never tell you this, but she’s one of our best.”
Emery smiles broadly as she goes back to hosing and cleaning the manure in one of the hog pens. It may not be glamorous, but she's happy.