Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dr. Ashley Stokes of Hawaii's Cattle Industry

Today we are proud to feature Dr. Ashley Michelle Stokes. Ashley is the recipient of the 2012 Hawaii Cattleman of the Year.

The recipient for the 2012 Hawaii Cattleman of the Year is Dr. Ashley Stokes, the product of multi cultural influences – a part “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” - a little “Jolie Blon” and now “My Hawaii Nei” – whose lyrics tell the story of Hawaii’s Cattle Industry – “the future of this land is in our hands”.

Dr. Ashley Stokes received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alabama and was the first person to enroll and complete a dual degree DVM/PhD program at Louisiana State University where she received a Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Physiology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. While in Louisiana she received numerous professional and civic awards including the Baton Rouge “Top 40 under 40”; the “Forum 35 Board of Directors” and the YMCA of Baton Rouge Board of Advisors.

Ashley is the Associate Extension Veterinarian & Pre-Veterinary Advisor with the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources having joined HFNAS in August of 2009 and has made tremendous strides in both student organizations as well as in the Animal Sciences program.

She has over 50 research program interests and in excess of 80 publications. Since taking on the role of advisor of the Pre-Vet and Rotaract Clubs, she has energized both clubs and has increased membership substantially. The Pre-Vet Club introduces students to opportunities and information related to animals and veterinary medicine and the Rotaract Club is a Rotary-sponsored service club that addresses the physical and social needs of the community while promoting international understanding and peace through friendship and service projects. Some of her contributions include coordinating mock interviews and a mentorship program that connects students with local veterinarian mentors to familiarize students with the application process for veterinary school, organizing swine artificial insemination and baby animal processing and care workshops to give students valuable hands-on experiences, and devoting much energy and enthusiasm to outreach efforts that get students interested in Animal Sciences in CTAHR. Despite being so heavily involved in numerous undertakings, Dr. Stokes still finds the time to get to know her students and assist and mentor them individually so that they may achieve their educational and professional goals.

In May of 2012, The University of Hawaii recognized Ashley as the recipient of the 2012 Ka Pouhana (Mentor) Award, which recognizes an outstanding mentor in the college whom students feel, has gone beyond the call of duty and has performed an outstanding job in guiding them. The Ka Pouhana Award Selection Committee is comprised wholly of undergraduate and graduate students. In making their selection, the Committee highlighted Ashley’s focus on interactive learning experiences that engage her students; efforts in providing activities, mentoring, and advising to help her students prepare for veterinary school; and encouragement of students to set higher goals for themselves, as key traits that make her truly deserving of this year’s Award. In addition, Ashley has coordinated mock interviews and a mentorship program that connects students with local veterinarian mentors to gain experience in veterinary medicine; provided advising for students applying to veterinary schools; organized artificial insemination and neonate animal care and processing workshops to give students valuable hands-on experience; and devoted energy and enthusiasm to getting students interested in Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in CTAHR.

Subsequent to her arrival in Hawaii, Ashley has been invaluable to Hawaii’s Cattle Industry and is recognized throughout the Island chain as integral to its future success. She has worked tirelessly to assist in the development of Livestock Shipping Guidelines to insure the well being of cattle in transit. Ashley has conducted workshops across the State on Beef Herd Health & Welfare as well as a forage study to develop a better mineral supplement for Hawaii Cattle. Another example of Ashley’s efforts at bringing together academia with the cattle industry included implementing and coordinating CTAHR’s Beef Herd Breeding and Artificial Insemination Classes – “Helping MOOOve Hawai‘i Beef to the Top”. Ashley was the point person on the cattle industry’s efforts to provide awareness of the prolonged and devastating drought to not only our Local & State organizations, but also on a National level with the Department of Agriculture

She has been an active partner in the implementation of initiatives not only for the formation of the Hawaii Livestock Farmers Coalition, but also for enhanced communications between all stakeholders – public & private sector alike.

Ashley is passionate in her belief that in an industry where our ranchers work hard to take care of the land and their animals they need to be recognized by the 98% of the population that are not involved in agriculture – “promoting beef is as important as raising beef”. As the NCBA and USFRA have stated - “We see an under informed consumer out there asking questions about food safety - we’ve got to be prepared to go back to the consumer and give that consumer an idea of what is happening and what isn’t happening – perception is reality.” She has been instrumental in reaching out to stakeholders & consumers alike to help communicate each other’s concerns and to provide for a better understanding for all. She is adamant about everyone realizing it really is all about people and their understanding of where their beef comes from.

Ashley truly epitomizes the Aloha Spirit and the knowledge that Hawaii’s Ranchers are about Ohana – about preserving Hawaii’s heritage and culture – about loyalty to the land and enhancing it for future generations – and most of all about perpetuating the way of life of our ranching community.

To learn more about Hawaii's Cattle Industry and Hawaii Agriculture check out these great webpages: 4Ag Hawaii and Hawaii Agricultural Partnerships, 4Ag Hawaii Facebook Page. Hawaii Beef - It's Whats for Dinner and Hawaii Livestock Farmers Coalition and Hawaii Big Island Beef.

A special thank you to the folks over at 4Ag Hawaii and the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council for sending us this great feature! 

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