Brian Spannagel

Tell us about your background.

I was fortunate to be born and raised on a diversified farm outside of Villa Grove, IL.  While most of the farm comprised of grain production, we also raised cattle as well as ventures into swine and poultry through our 4-H projects.  Upon graduation, I attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale and received a BS in Agricultural Education and minor in Animal Science.  Most importantly, I met my wife of 11 years while at SIUC.   

During my collegiate career, I was fortunate to have mentors such as Dr. Gary Apgar help guide and share several of the opportunities within the swine industry.  This led to working on campus at the Swine Research Center and participating in summer internships with swine production systems which further fueled my passion for the industry. 

Over the past 12 years, I have been blessed with a career in the swine industry crossing several different facets including pork production, procurement, health, and nutrition.  Today, I serve as a Key Account Manager for Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health and based in Southeast Iowa.

How did you become interested in the Master of Veterinary Science degree program?

A friend in the industry shared that UIUC was launching the MVS program.  While I had considered furthering my education for a while, I was not content pursuing the traditional MBA programs.  What I really enjoy and appreciate about the MVS program is the wide scope of courses available.  Within a given semester, there may be a course focused on topics commonly found in MBA programs while the next course offers topics commonly found in MS programs.  I appreciate the applicability of the content and that the program is offered online allowing us to further our education while continuing our professional careers.

Tell us about your favorite course in the program?

My favorite courses thus far have been VCM 568 (A Systems-Based Approach to the Operation of Livestock-Based Food Production Systems I) and VCM 565 (Biostatistics, Information Management, & Data Analytics for Livestock Production Systems).  I really enjoyed VCM 568 because it challenged us to identify constraints within systems and to consider how proposed changes may impact the entire system—not just a silo within a system.  In comparison, I recently completed VCM 565 which was the most challenging course to date, but most rewarding.  This course was unique in that it not only challenged us in statistics, but also served as an introduction to coding programs for analyzing large data sets.  As I consider future applications of trial designs, data collection, and analysis—this was likely the most valuable.

Now that you are finishing the degree program, what will you do next?

Throughout my career, there have been numerous changes in trends and dynamics of the swine industry.  To paraphrase a wise friend, “If you’re not working every day to grow and evolve, you’re 1 day closer to being obsolete.”  What I appreciate from this program is the insight and perspective it has given me to continue to be knowledgeable and trusted resource for the systems in which I serve.

What is one thing about the program you would say to someone considering this degree?

I would encourage anyone involved in animal protein production to consider this program.  Whether your current career is in animal production, procurement, health, nutrition, or other allied industries—there are relevant ideas and concepts to be gained from the program.  Additionally, the insights and perspective discovered during the program will better equip students in their current roles as well as prepare them for future careers.