When Ciana Bowhay, now an assistant professor of animal science at Tennessee Tech University, was working on her master’s degree in Texas, she was given the opportunity to teach a few introductory courses to freshmen. She enjoyed it so much that when it was time to begin working on her Ph.D., she requested more opportunities to teach.
“I discovered that I love teaching,” she said. “And so I kind-of switched gears at that point in my Ph.D. and focused really heavily on the teaching side of things.”
Having left Texas for Tennessee in the fall of 2021, Bowhay now teaches the introductory animal science lecture and lab classes, as well as classes on animal nutrition, and will be teaching animal reproduction in the future. She sees both students who have been raised on farms and around animals all their lives, as well as those from cities who have little experience before they come to her class.
“I like teaching both types,” Bowhay said. “You get the students who have learned a particular way of doing things and they’re not yet aware of other ways outside of that. Or sometimes they know a lot about cattle but don’t have experience with pigs or sheep. Then you have those students who are very fresh and extremely teachable because they’ve never been around animals before so they don’t have anything ingrained. Neither type of student is better than the other – they’re just different and take different types of teaching.”
Bowhay says she enjoys doing hands-on teaching with her classes the most. Students tell her they enjoy the days when they do things like meeting at Shipley Farm to work with lambs, or visit a poultry barn, or tour a feed mill.
“They learned a lot. It was also just fun to get out of the classroom and do something practical, and even get them in front of people who are potential employers,” Bowhay said.
Bowhay joined Tech right as the School of Agriculture announced it was changing animal science from a concentration in an agriculture bachelor’s degree to being its own degree. This new modification pulls animal science and pre-veterinary science from that umbrella degree program to create a standalone degree program.
“The students I’ve taught here within animal science are so enthusiastic, and it's really fun to teach when people who are so passionate about their education,” Bowhay said.