For as long as Dr. Katherine Ralston could remember, she wanted to be a veterinarian. “My 6th grade teacher wrote on my report card (that I still have!), ‘When you become a vet, I’ll bring Clint (his black Labrador) to see you.’ As I got older, I discovered more and more reasons why I wanted to pursue veterinary medicine, including the challenge and choices for career focuses.”
In 2008, that dream of becoming a veterinarian became a reality when Katherine Ralston, a little girl from Vandergrift, Pa., became Dr. Katherine Ralston, graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and full-time public health veterinarian, or PHV, at USDA’S Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
As a PHV, Dr. Ralston leads a group of public health professionals to make sure the plants that make our food are sanitary and follow food safety plans. PHVs also enforce federal meat and poultry inspection procedures, ensure livestock is humanely treated, and perform other duties to protect public health.
But that isn’t all Dr. Ralston does. On any given day, she is also assessing food safety plans as an Enforcement Investigations and Analysis Officer, recruiting for the agency, speaking at conferences, training new veterinarians and working with summer interns. “I know that I am making a difference in the lives of Americans and animals everyday as a promoter of public health and proper livestock handling. Every day that I can make a difference in someone’s life or be a positive influence to them while performing my FSIS duties, I am happy.”
Ralston is committed to the work she does because she enjoys it but, more importantly, because it impacts American consumers. “I love where I am right now,” she says. “I love being a public servant and I love my job.”
Ralston is one of thousands of FSIS employees who take the agency’s public health mission to heart. She is a Face of Food Safety.