Hello, I’m Dr. David Dargatz. I work as an epidemiologist and beef cattle specialist for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health in Fort Collins, Colorado. My work includes coordinating/conducting national studies of health and management practices on beef cattle operations as part of the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS). I’ve been with APHIS since 1988. In the past, I’ve also worked on NAHMS dairy and swine studies.
Like many other veterinarians, I became interested in veterinary medicine from exposure to the local practitioners in my home town. My family had horses and needed the services of a veterinarian from time to time. The two practitioners in the local clinic encouraged me to ride with them on calls and spend some time in the clinic to see what veterinary practice was like. By the time I was halfway through high school, I knew this was the profession for me – it allowed me to combine my interests in horses and other livestock, science, and being outdoors.
After veterinary school, I spent time in large animal practice at two universities, completed a residency in food animal medicine and became board-certified in theriogenology, the branch of veterinary medicine that deals with reproduction, all before coming to APHIS.
As part of my job with APHIS, I have the chance to respond to requests for information that are used to craft national and international policy. I’ve also been able to travel internationally to help other countries conduct their own studies of animal health and management. It’s enlightening and energizing to work with people in agriculture in other countries.
I love learning, in all forms. Being located in Ft. Collins with Colorado State University I had the opportunity to pursue an additional academic degree – something I likely would not have done in another job. My job has allowed me to be a continuing learner and develop many skills including study and survey design, data analysis methods and options for optimal communication with the agricultural industries.
Every day my job is different. On any given day, I may interact with stakeholders to identify information needs, work with others to design a study, analyze data submitted by producers, or write reports for publication. I find it fulfilling when information we’ve generated gets put to use to further improve agriculture and public health.
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.