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Resilience, ability to adapt keep animal sciences senior on track

Editor’s Note: This story was written when Caitlyn Cox was a senior. She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences: production in 2022.

COVID-19 may have disrupted everyone’s lives, but Caitlin Cox didn’t let it disrupt her college career or future.

The senior animal sciences: production management major from Greenfield, Indiana, may have spent much of her college career during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has shown great resiliency in facing and overcoming these challenges. In fact, Cox’s ability to bounce back from challenges and to change course when she needs to is a big part of who she is.

Cox’s first internship (before the pandemic) showcased her ability to adapt. She was attending the fall career fair with the goal of getting involved in research.

Caitlyn Cox poses with a cow Caitlin Cox’s entire college career has been an opportunity to adapt to unexpected changes and challenges. The senior animal sciences: production management major from Greenfield, Indiana, has learned much from her internships and college during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo provided by Dawn Wallace, The Photography Barn.

“My freshman year (little, scared freshman Caitlin walking around), I actually was interested in the internship with Harvestland, which is now Co-Alliance,” Cox said. “So, I was talking to them, and I actually did get an interview from that and then I had an internship there.”

But the internship did not provide the type of experience for which she had hoped. Instead, Cox was a field scout, which involved checking farm soils and identifying weeds and other crop pests. So, not only was the internship not in research, it wasn’t even in animal sciences, Cox’s major. But by learning about row crop production, Cox said she learned a side of agriculture she didn’t know very well. More important, the work had a larger purpose.

“You’re helping producers,” Cox said. “Every time I thought about it, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m helping someone like my stepdad or my dad who farms.’ And it was really neat to do that, because you’re their eyes in the fields, and you can help them with different management questions they might have.”

That internship, Cox explained, helped her discover her passion for helping others. Her ability to adapt was teaching her valuable lessons.

When Cox finally got her wish with a research internship, she again had to adapt. She interned for Blue River Research Services, which focuses on animal health. Closer to her original goal, but she was assigned to work with chickens and pigs — her own background and interests were with dairy cattle. Still, Cox said she appreciated the hands-on work and general overview of the research process.

“That opened my eyes because, not only was it animal science, but I had to step out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It was kind of interesting because I liked having more of a challenge, you could say, with something I haven’t been involved in before.”

The internship came with another challenge: Cox was working during the COVID-19 pandemic, which added safety concerns and forced her to adjust her daily routines. Throughout it all, she continued to show up and never let the disappointments of COVID hinder her education or enthusiasm.

Even after COVID restrictions began to relax, campus activities continued to challenge Cox’s resilience. Cox is an ambassador for the animal sciences department and was part of a group that planned last spring’s Animal Science Preview Days, which introduce high school students to the major.  

By that time, all the ambassadors who had helped run the in-person events had graduated. There was no one left who knew any of the details about running the event in-person.

Cox and her teammates rose to the challenge. They looked through old files to find out how to run them in-person once again.
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Tomi Harrod earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural communication in 2023 from Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication



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