Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fourth generation dairy farmer new assistant state vet

Hector Castro

Dr. Amber Itle has been around large animals her whole life, first as a child growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Pennsylvania, and later as a private practice veterinarian and in recent years a field veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture.

“I started working at a young age, feeding calves and milking cows with my siblings and cousins,” Dr. Itle said. “I have worked as a herd manager, AI technician, and processing plant worker. I even had the chance to deliver milk on local routes.”

Now, Dr. Itle can add assistant state veterinarian to the list, after being appointed to the position earlier this month.

As the assistant state vet, Dr. Itle will manage the agency’s team of field vets and the agency’s Animal Disease Traceability Program. Her top goal is to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to boost communications with stakeholders who work in all sectors of the livestock industry to protect animal health and promote traceability.

“The idea is to close the gap between Olympia and the producers that our decisions and regulations impact,” she said. “As much as possible, we should incorporate the ideas and proposed solutions of our stakeholders when it comes to implementing ADT.”

Dr. Itle also plans to remain involved in partnerships with other organizations working on animal health issues, such as the large animal program committee for the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Bovine Practitioners.

She has a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Itle worked in private practice for several years, including a decade in Whatcom County as a large animal and sale yard veterinarian working among beef cattle, before joining WSDA in 2013 as a field veterinarian and foreign animal disease diagnostician.

“My dad has been practicing as a food animal veterinarian for 46 years and continues to be passionate about the work. My sister is also a mixed animal veterinarian,” Dr. Itle said.

She lives in Whatcom County with her husband and their three children, where she helps manage her neighbor's beef herd and her oldest daughter's two beef cows, Flower and Moocy.

“Agriculture has always been important to the livelihoods and identity of both my family and myself," Dr. Itle said. "I hope to use my understanding of animal agriculture and animal health to promote practical solutions for our stakeholders.”