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Leveling up

  • Dr. Gabby Kiesel examines a chicken.

    Leveling up

    Poultry Health Certificate Program offers professionals a path for elevating their careers

    Dr. Gabby Kiesel, '23 DVM (right), examines a chicken.

Dr. Gabby Kiesel always knew she wanted to be a veterinarian, but it wasn’t until she took veterinary school courses that she found her true calling in poultry medicine.

“Through taking population and food animal medicine classes, I started to realize I liked that side of veterinary medicine,” she says. “It's the big picture. It felt like serving a different type of purpose through medicine, which I enjoyed.”

Kiesel wanted to learn as much as she could about the field beyond what had been available in her courses. After graduating in May 2023 from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), she returned to the College to expand her knowledge through its Poultry Health Certificate Program

Dr. Gabby Kiesel holds a group of silkie chickens.

The Poultry Health Certificate is a 12-credit graduate program offered online for poultry professionals and students seeking to take their careers to the next level. Launched in 2021, the program has flexible learning opportunities for professionals already in the poultry industry and for those looking to join it.

“There are 17 different courses that you can choose from, so it's a very customizable program,” says Tim Johnson, a professor at CVM who led the development of the certificate program. “At the end of the program, you're not only learning the core essentials of poultry health, but you're also gaining communication skills, leadership skills, and—depending on the track that you take within the program— business skills.”

The program’s curriculum dives into important areas of poultry health, including nutrition, biosafety, food safety, regulations, and anatomy/physiology as well as other topics such as project management, leadership, and finance. The course materials have been developed by leading poultry faculty with guidance from industry leaders.

Dr. Gabby Kiesel kneels in a poultry barn.

In addition to a robust curriculum, the asynchronous online format of the certificate program offers flexibility to students, which has been key for Kiesel, who currently works two jobs in addition to her poultry health coursework.

Scholarship opportunities sponsored by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association also are available. Kiesel is the recipient of one such scholarship and credits it with allowing her to jump into the certificate program and prepare for the next stage of her career.

“Having a program dedicated to the poultry industry itself is amazing because it's all the information that I've been wanting to learn,” she says. “It's been an excellent opportunity and the teachers are wonderful.”

For more information about the Poultry Health Certificate Program, visit

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