But after taking her first dairy nutrition courses, working at the dairy farm at CFAES’ Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, and being smitten by it all, Tavera is aiming to have a career with a different kind of four-legged animal.
“I want to be a dairy nutritionist,” the senior animal sciences major said.
That wasn’t always the case.
“Before I came to Ohio State, I had never even touched a cow,” said Tavera, who is minoring in agribusiness and studying in the Dairy Certificate Program.
But spurred by her passion for horses, and then by an equine nutrition course, she decided to change the specialization of her major: from animal biosciences—an option for pre-vet—to animal industries—good for going straight into industry.
Then came courses in dairy nutrition—“Cows were new to me,” she said, “and everything my professors told me about them I just absorbed”; a student research job working in the lab of CFAES dairy nutrition professor Jeffrey Firkins; and then a newsletter notice posted by the Waterman dairy farm: Now hiring summer interns.
She applied, was hired, the internship turned into a part-time job, and the rest, she said, is history.
Her hands-on experience at Waterman—working on a farm, feeding and handling dairy cows, doing the day-to-day chores that any dairy farmer does, including getting up sometimes at 3:35 in the morning—together with her coursework and research experience, gives her a leg up for getting a job after graduation.
Recently, while looking into internships at a CFAES career expo, Tavera shared her work background—at Waterman, in Firkins’ lab—with a rep from a major feed company.
“I asked her, ‘What kind of candidates are you looking for?’ And she looked at me and she said, ‘Someone like you.’ So that was a good affirmation that I’m heading in the right direction.”
Tavera’s first love will go with her, too.
“I’ll definitely have a horse on the side,” she said with a laugh. “That’ll be my hobby.”