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News - Fall 2004 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, Fall 2004
Volume 1, Number 2

Our very best wishes for a happy holiday season to all our friends, alumni, emeriti and supporters wherever you may be. We also hope you have a successful and rewarding 2005. This edition of Mainely Progress will concentrate on the people of AVS, past and present, but first some information about a very important program in Cooperative Extension.

The Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program (MeCHAP)

Healthy livestock mean sustainable and profitable farms, and more consistent and safer livestock products. What started four years ago as a small research project has blossomed into a statewide livestock health program whose goal is to improve the health of all livestock in the state.

A number of emerging health issues threaten the marketing of milk and meat products from livestock. Livestock diseases like E. coli, Cryptosporidia, Salmonella, Johne’s Disease, Foot and Mouth Disease, Chronic Wasting Disease and Madcow Disease, are rapidly becoming concerns to the public. Other diseases such as mastitis, pneumonia, lameness, and metabolic disorders, though not public health concerns, are costly to livestock producers because they increase production costs, reduce product quality and lower farm profits.

The Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program (MeCHAP) was formed in 2000 is run by a coalition of dairy, beef, sheep, and deer producers, veterinarians, food processors, university personnel and state regulators. AVS extension faculty involved in this program include: Gary Anderson, Dave Marcinkowski, Mike Opitz and Ken Andries.

MeCHAP helps farmers make progress through a 3-step process that involves an on-farm risk assessment, development of a management plan to control the particular diseases on the farm and a subsidized disease testing strategy to monitor progress.

MeCHAP has made a number of significant accomplishments in it brief existence. These include:

Since its inception, MeCHAP has been able to obtain more than $150,000 in grants to conduct research, expand diagnostic lab capabilities, and subsidize the farm risk assessments and testing. The program has also enabled the Maine Department of Agriculture to obtain more than $200,000 in federal funds to support the effort. Plans for the future include expansion of the program to all livestock species with educational information, farm assessment programs and additional disease testing. For more information about MeCHAP contact the University of Maine Extension Livestock Office at: 207-581-2787.

Former Chair of AVS, Dr. Robert O. Hawes was recognized by the board of directors of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for his contributions to the conservation of heritage turkeys. Dr. Hawes has raised and exhibited prize poultry all his life, with which he has won many honors. He was one of the first 30 licensed judges of the American Bantam Association and he continues to judge at local and 4-H fairs. Bob has written scientific publications, book chapters, popular articles, and he still writes articles in the Snood News, the conservancy’s publication about turkeys. Those who would like to know more could visit:

More Changes at UMaine
Marcy Guillette, our Livestock Supervisor, came to us in 1997 to help manage the various animal species at the Witter Center and to help coordinate our hands-on learning. After seven years with us Marcy has moved to Florida to work with horses instead of dairy cattle. We wish Marcy the very best in her new endeavors and hope she doesn’t get blown away by the hurricanes or eaten by the ‘gators.

There will also be changes in our teaching program as part of the University of Maine Strategic plan. The Animal Medical Technology Program, which we used to teach, will return to the Orono campus from UMA (Bangor Campus), possibly by July 2005. We are still working out the details of incorporating 70 to 100 more students into the program and how to integrate their needs into the four-year program and the Witter Teaching and Research Center. We are confident that students in both programs will benefit from this integration as we can provide additional experience with large animals and the Bangor program will give our 4-year students exposure to small animals that they currently lack.


This newsletter now reaches over 500 of our friends, alumni, emeriti and industry contacts all across the US and Canada. Please let us know of anyone we should add to our list. In this first year of publication we have been contacted by numerous alumni with details of their successes since they left UMaine. Here are a few of them:


Our congratulations also to Charles Buker and Whitney King on their marriage, August 14, 2004. Charles and Whitney were united in a Civil War themed wedding before taking their honeymoon along the Olympic peninsula in Washington where they saw Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. They live in Auburn.

Our best wishes to everyone who has contacted us and our thanks to everyone who has made donations to our department. I try to write to you all but I may have overlooked someone. My apologies if I have not written to you and my most sincere thanks for your financial support.


It is with considerable regret that we announce the passing of:

All of these marvelous people will be greatly missed. Our condolences to their families and our thanks to the Bangor Daily News for some of this information.

Dr. Michael Opitz Retires

On a more joyful note, on July 16, 2004, we held a retirement party for Dr. Michael Opitz who was a veterinarian that filled the tripartite responsibilities of research, teacher, and public educator for 25 years in AVS. Mike contributed millions of hours to the people of Maine through his work in poultry, fish aquaculture, and by directing the UMaine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. We still see him around as he continues to supervise our salmonella testing until his position is refilled. Best wishes for your retirement Mike.


Dong Thi Nguyen-Bresinsky was born in Quang Nam, Viet Nam on July 16, 1958, was raised in Da Nang and graduated from high school in 1976. I attended the University of Agriculture and Forestry in Ho Chi Minh city, where I received a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary and Animal Sciences in 1995. I obtained an Orderly Development Assistance scholarship from the New Zealand government in 1995, traveled to New Zealand and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Animal Science, at Massey University in 1998. I married Professor Henrik Bresinsky on March 11, 1998 in New Zealand, and we have a two-year-old daughter, Bettina Bresinsky. I am working on Master of Science research with Dr. Charles Wallace on the immunopurification of bovine placental lactogen and its physiological function in the pregnant bovine. I am giving my thesis defense late this year.

Na Wang spent her early years in a small town in Xingjiang Province, P.R.China, where I received my elementary to high school education in public school. In 1992 I entered Shihezhi University and obtained my B.S. degree in animal science in 1996. Then I enrolled the graduate school of China Agricultural University to study animal nutrition. During my graduate studies, my research work was focused on sulfur requirement for Inner Mongolia Cashmere goats and improving the quality of cashmere. After obtaining my M.S. in animal nutrition in 2000 I continued my studies in Food and Nutrition Science at UMaine researching the effects of silage additives on silage quality, aerobic stability and milk production. I am currently completing my Ph.D Dissertation.

Ian Crowley was born in New England, but raised in Old Virginia and came to UMaine for a B.S. in general Biology, with an emphasis on Zoology. I enrolled in a Masters program in Animal Science with Dr. Causey looking at mucosal uterine antibody response in mares after nasal inoculation with antigen. I hope this work will aid my application to Veterinary College.

John D. Blaisdell
was born in Bangor, attended Bangor High School and the University of Maine, graduating in 1975 with a B.S. in Animal Science. He went on to receive an M.A. from the University of Washington and a Ph. D. from Iowa State University. In 1996 he returned to Bangor and is presently a part-time instructor in AVS teaching classes that meet the Gen Ed requirement in ethics.

Melissa Potts has worked for Cooperative Extension/Animal and Veterinary Sciences for two years as an Administrative Assistant. I enjoy my job because of the diversity of tasks and the laid back environment. Previous to this, I was self-employed for five years. I have found getting back into the workforce extremely challenging, rewarding, and fun. I currently live in Argyle with my husband, Bob and my two children, Emily and Jacob.

Shannon Byers received a BS in Animal Science from UMaine in 1997 and began working at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME the following year. In 2001, I joined the newly formed Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) Laboratory and began working under the direction of Rob Taft, Ph.D. We routinely employ in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, and embryo cryopreservation to improve efficiency in mouse production and colony management. I study part-time in the AVS Masters Degree program while I continue to work at JAX. My current research interests include identifying why mice of different strains respond differently to superovulation by exogenous hormones and why fertilization rates during IVF vary by strain. The goal of this project is to identify genes that may account for these differences thereby improving our understanding of reproductive processes in mice and ultimately improving the way we use ARTs as a colony management tool.

Patricia Stoddard has been the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences for two years, becoming full-time this year. In my 17 years working at UMaine I have enjoyed meeting many students and have had the opportunity to work with dedicated and loyal faculty and staff. My job responsibilities include purchasing necessities to operate the department, making sure that we stay within the guidelines for spending and making payments to various companies that we do business with every day. I am married and have three grown children and 4 “yearning to be grown up” grandchildren. My education has been mostly of life itself and I have learned a great deal from my years here on campus from the variety of students that have passed my way. I cherish each and every time that a student has stopped by to say “thank you” for helping them over a rough spot or just listening to them.

This newsletter costs about $500 to print and mail to you. If you would like to sponsor an issue then the your name, or the name of your company, could be HERE for everyone to see.

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Contact Information

Animal and Veterinary Sciences
5735 Hitchner Hall, University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5735
Phone: (207)581-2770 | Fax: (207) 581-2729E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System