September 2016 ADBCAP Newsletter

A herd of llamas

Risk communication, simply put, is the ex-change of information about risks. What are risks? In common parlance (according to the Oxford English Dictionary), risk means “(exposure to) the possibility of loss, injury, or other adverse or unwelcome circumstance; a chance or situation involving such a possibility.” Risk refers to the uncertainty of danger, hazard, or exposure to peril that we face every day (Adams, 1995). Helping people understand risks and ramp up or tone down their reaction to risk is often the goal of risk communicators (Sandman, 1994). At its best, risk communication is “An open, two-way ex-change of information and opinion about risk leading to better understanding and better risk management decisions” (Army Corps of Engineers, 2012). Risk communication is a dialog.

Julie Smith DVM, PhD, is a research associate professor at the University of Vermont. Julie received her B.S. in Biological Sciences, D.V.M., and Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition at Cornell University. Since joining the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences in 2002, she has applied her veterinary background to programs in the areas of herd health, calf and heifer management, and agricultural emergency management. She is responsible for teaching the undergraduate Animal Welfare class required of majors in her department. Julie has conducted trainings for Extension educators, livestock producers, and community members on the risks posed by a range of animal diseases, whether they already exist in the United States, exist outside of the United States, or pose a risk to both animal and human health. In all cases, she emphasizes the importance of awareness and prevention. As a veterinarian and spouse of a dairy farmer, Julie is well aware of the animal health and well-being concerns of dairy animals. She is currently leading the ADBCAP, a multi-species, multi-state project looking at the human behavioral aspects of implementing practices to protect animal health and food security.

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