June 9, 2017

You Had Me At Hello

By Kerri Haider

This was myself and Merrill Simpson’s first week in D.C. at the AVMA GRD Student Externship, and we are loving it! I was slightly nervous to move to the big city after having been in rural TN for the past three years but was up for the adventure. Having finally settled in and gotten the hang of the metro I am really enjoying traveling the city to Capitol Hill each day for various activities.

I am going to give you a short excerpt from how our first week went and all of the great things we have experienced already.

Day 1: Our first day at the AVMA GRD office, located in the quaint DuPont Circle area off of Sunderland Place, was an introduction into what to expect for the extent of our time here. We started the morning attending the weekly staff meeting and then continued our orientation on all of the objectives for this externship. We eagerly started contacting veterinarians from different federal branches and who work on Capitol Hill to set up meetings for the coming month. We also started to schedule evening events that you will read about below. After our first day we were excited to get rolling with the great opportunities ahead.

Day 2: We started the day off with a bang and headed to Capitol Hill early in the morning to attend the Senate Appropriations Hearing on the Education Budget. If anyone was watching the hearing you would know it got quite heated and interesting right off the bat. We learned about the shortcomings and improvements that the proposed education budget has and watched representatives inquire about their states needs and how the nation would respond to the proposed budget. After the hearing we headed back to the AVMA GRD to meet with Assistant Director Gina Luke to discuss her portfolio and what issues in Congress are important to the veterinary profession. Later that evening, we attended the Challenge Change event with professionals from various backgrounds collaborating on the issue of food security internationally. The event was held in the Rayburn House Office Building and it was a fun time trying to navigate our way around. At this event we mingled with students, congressmen, and professors who have been working on improving food security around the world. I was happy that one of my professors at LMU-CVM had thoroughly prepared me for conversations in such efforts and I was able to represent the veterinary profession in a knowledgeable way, exemplifying the skill set that veterinarians can bring to the table on food security issues.

Day 3: Today we met with the Director of the AVMA GRD, Dr. Mark Lutschaunig. We learned about his career path and what opportunities and hearings we can attend during our externship. We also had a meeting with Assistant Director Dr. Lauren Stump and spoke about the issues in her portfolio. We also picked her brain for good places to eat and what sites to see while in D.C. We rounded out the day with a tour of the Supreme Court. We learned about the process of court rulings and the history behind the building of the Supreme Court. During the evening we decided to try out happy hour at a tapas joint close to the office called Boqueria. It was delicious and we got a whole spread of authentic Spanish cuisine.

Day 4: We started the morning off at the Minnesota Breakfast meeting with Senator Amy Klobuchar. We enjoyed pastries flown in from MN and got to hear about the Senator’s major priorities. The breakfast was in the Hart Senate Office Building, where the famous Comey hearing was about to take place. We walked through the hallway and stood in the line to attend the hearing for about 5 minutes- just to say we were there. From there we headed over to the house side of the Hill and sat in on the Commodity Funding Trading Commission (CFTC) Budget Hearing. Finishing the day, we attended the One Health Academy monthly meeting at the Capital Yacht Club where we networked with other veterinarians interested in one health and learned about the Arctic Circle one health work being done by the US and Arctic Council.

Day 5: This morning I wanted to start the day off with a bang, so I woke up early to attend a yoga class across the street from where I am staying. After that I headed into the office where we had a meeting with Director of State Advocacy Dr. Ashley Morgan where we learned about her career path from equine medicine to policy. It was an uplifting morning discussing the career options for veterinarians and we are looking forward to the three weeks ahead. Later today I will be meeting with the Agriculture LA for Senator Gillibrand. Stay tuned for more updates from your AVMA GRD Externs on the Hill Each Friday!

KlobucharView from Capital Yacht Club