Avian Flu Impacting ISU Classes,Research

News

AMES- Due to the avian flu, Iowa State University’s been forced to cancel classes at their Poultry Teaching and Research Farm.

Nearly 500 Iowa State students will be affected by the cancelation of the hands-on portion of the classes. The majority of the six courses effected are lower-level or introductory classes in the Animal Science Department.  

In order to protect the rare flock of birds at the site, officials decided this would be the best decision. Some of the bird’s lineage lines trace back to the early 1950’s.

The fact that the buildings are older and have less biosecurity measures in place, made the decision easier.

“When you look at the science, it’s black and white. We’re working on new and creative ideas to get those experiences, but for the health of the birds, it was straightforward. We couldn’t continue to operate the way we were,” said Jodi Sterle, Associate Professor for Iowa State’s Animal Science Department.

Since quite of a few of the courses are lower-level, Sterle says not many students should be set back by the changes.

“They’ve switched their schedules around and luckily, most are early enough on they won’t get behind. But we’re working on getting them those experiences that are so vital,” said Sterle.

ISU Junior Carl Frame agrees that hands-on experience is important and is a big part of why he chose his major.

“It’s obviously a bummer. The hands-on is one of the best parts of ISU because the farms are just outside of town. Being able to go work with them hands-on, it definitely enhances the learning experience, absolutely,” said Frame.

Instead of letting it be a set back, Sterle says professors will rely on poultry videos and articles focusing on the avian flu in classes. They’ll spend weeks going over the economic impact and effects from the bird flu and using the outbreak as a “teachable moment.”

“We’ll just work with what we have. It’s more important to be biosecure for one semester than lose the flock for years to come,” said Frame.

Sterle says they hope to have students back out at the farm by spring semester, as long as avian flu doesn’t make a reoccurrence this fall.

One study shows, so far, the avian flu has cost the Iowa economy $1.2 billion and 8,500 jobs. More than 75 operations have been effected and more than 34 million birds were euthanized in the outbreak.

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