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APHIS Veterinarian Turns a Childhood Dream into Reality

Hi, I’m Dr. Shanna Siegel, a Veterinary Medical Officer with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  I have been working for APHIS for the past 3 years on import and export matters here in Georgia.  After finishing vet school I worked as a small animal practitioner in a semi-rural practice while earning my Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree. Upon completion of my MPH, I worked as a laboratory researcher. My current job allows me to follow my passion for helping both animals and people.

When I was young, I wanted to spend time with animals but my mother was allergic to them.  When I turned 12, I began volunteering at a local vet clinic.  I continued to work in clinics through college with the intention of going to vet school.  A specific class I took during my undergraduate years, entitled “People, Plagues and Parasites,” refocused my career ambitions on working with animal diseases and public health.

In my day to day work, I serve as a Program Manager facilitating all international shipments of animals and animal products imported or exported from the State of Georgia. One of my main functions is export certificate review and endorsement but I also spend much of my time working with a variety of stakeholders, including the general public, accredited veterinarians, industry representatives, state employees, and other Federal agencies.  As the main liaison between Veterinary Services and Georgia’s import/export entities, much of my success is dependent upon my attention to detail and ability to build cooperative relationships as well as the capability to effectively communicate both technical and non-technical information.

Not long after I came to APHIS, I got a chance to put my disease/public health background to work.  I spent time in California working on the Bovine Tuberculosis outbreak.  It was the first real-world, “I’m really doing this” moment of my Federal career.  And let me tell you something…. being 5’0” tall really is a disadvantage when working behind dairy cows!

In my job, the coolest moments are those times where you know you’ve totally changed someone’s day (or life) for the better– animal or person.  I feel so fortunate to have a career that I not only love, but that affords me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger; I leave work every day knowing that no matter how mundane that day’s tasks might seem, I have had a positive effect in protecting and promoting American agriculture, and everything and everyone that encompasses.

APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog.  This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians.  Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.

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