By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Carla Huston, an associate professor in the Mississippi State University department of pathobiology and population medicine, was named Mississippi Veterinarian of the Year by the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association. The award was announced at the 2012 MVMA winter meeting in Starkville.
“Dr. Huston embodies the meaning of the MVMA Veterinarian of the Year award,” said MVMA President Scott Segrest. “Her willingness to serve in so many important areas from animal disaster relief, academia and professional organizations to her own personal farm duties, is a lesson we should all heed. Veterinarians are exceptionally well-trained in many areas of science, medicine and service. Dr. Huston is a prime example of a veterinarian who uses that education for the benefit of animals and people alike.”
Huston said she can’t remember exactly how old she was when she first started wanting to work with animals, but she knows she was pretty young.
“When I was in grade school, my dad would drop me off at the local pet shop to volunteer cleaning cages and feeding the animals,” Huston said. “That’s probably where it started.”
Huston said she had dogs and the typical “pocket pets” growing up — rabbits, hamsters, fish and ferrets. Today she owns a small herd of beef cattle, a few chickens, two dogs and a cat and works with animals of all shapes and sizes.
“In my current position I work mainly with cattle,” Huston said, “but I also do population medicine and herd health management with all species of animals, large and small. In addition to teaching veterinary students, I do a lot of extension and outreach activities such as educational programs and trainings.”
One area of outreach close to Huston’s heart is the Mississippi Animal Response Team, also known as MART.
“The College of Veterinary Medicine was tasked to support the state veterinarian and (MART) to deal with animals following Hurricane Katrina,” Huston said. “Under their incident management team, I served as the veterinary services branch director under the state veterinarian and spent around six weeks in south Mississippi assisting with veterinary and sheltering issues.”
Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina has not been the only major weather disaster to affect Mississippi in the past several years. More recently, Huston helped in the recovery from the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak that caused widespread damage and death in north Mississippi.
“We spent much of our immediate time communicating with local animal care agencies and local veterinarians performing damage and needs assessments,” Huston said. “The College of Veterinary Medicine and MART serve as liaisons with other local, state and federal agencies on animal issues and can be deployed with an official emergency assistance request.”
Huston said MART is the official response and coordinating agency for the state involving animals and agriculture and is based out of the state veterinarian’s office at the Mississippi Board of Animal Health.
“Volunteers can be involved in many areas including assessments, sheltering assistance, basic first aid training for animals, veterinary assistance and incident management,” Huston said.
Huston, who likes to hike and visit with family and friends, said she was completely surprised to win the award.
“It is such an honor to be recognized by my peers,” Huston said. “I am fortunate to work with so many great students, producers and colleagues, and to them and to my family I am most thankful. I would like to acknowledge the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine for their support of my professional career in serving the community through teaching, outreach and research.”
Huston said she loves what she does so much that she can’t think of anything else she’d rather do.
“However, veterinary medicine is such a diverse and exciting career one always has to keep an open mind,” Huston said. “I hope to continue working in areas of international veterinary medicine and agricultural sustainability, and I am looking forward to the next adventure.”
Huston earned her bachelor’s, doctor of veterinary medicine and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. She serves as the Mississippi Veterinary Beef Extension and Outreach coordinator and the Mississippi Beef Quality Assurance program coordinator. She specializes in both food animal health and production and in disaster management and response.
Awarded by the MVMA since 1970, the Veterinarian of the Year honor was given in 2002 to retired CVM dean John Thomson and in 2003 to A. Wayne Groce, CVM emeritus professor and special projects coordinator.
The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association is a non-profit association of veterinary professionals committed to the advancement of the science and art of veterinary medicine.