Sarah Turner

Class of 1998

The 2008 Young Alumnus Achievement Award is presented to Sarah Jane Turner, Class of 1998.

Sarah Turner grew up in New Ross, Nova Scotia. Agriculture has always been a part of her life: from the early years at home with her father and uncle on the family's small beef and Christmas tree farm to her participation in the 4-H program while growing up.

Sarah graduated from Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) majoring in Animal Sciences. Coming from a small rural area, Sarah found the close NSAC community a welcoming environment for learning and growth. It was the energy and excitement which she discovered in the Swine Unit that inspired Sarah to choose a career in the pork industry, and where her dedication to the survival and sustainability of that industry was inspired.

After graduating, Sarah left the Maritimes to pursue her passion for the pork industry and for several years she held the position as Manager of Alberta Quality Pork, where she coordinated the on-farm food safety and on-farm animal welfare programs. In 2006, Sarah joined Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development as coordinator of the Alberta Veterinary Surveillance Network (AVSN). In two short years, Sarah was promoted to the role of acting head of the Livestock Health for Market Access Section and now has permanently assumed the position of section head for the Epidemiology, Toxicology and Surveillance Support Section within the Food Safety Division.

AVSN is a ground breaking approach to the early detection of animal health events and the mechanisms for response and recovery of the industry in the event of an animal health incident. AVSN is being developed by a talented and forward thinking group of veterinarians specializing in epidemiology, diagnostic pathology, toxicology and theriogenology. As section head, Sarah galvanizes and leads this high-performance team of professionals and is a key part of this cutting-edge initiative. There are over 1.5 million Alberta cattle currently under surveillance by AVSN which represents approximately 20-30 per cent of the Alberta cattle industry. Dedicated to assisting the agricultural industries in building sustainable futures, the AVSN program has received international acclaim as a model of health surveillance as well as being considered for adoption in other Canadian provinces.

“Intellectually razor sharp with unparalleled people skills” and “An unabated pleasure to work with” is how Sarah’s AVSN co-workers describe her. In her short career Sarah has made many accomplishments. She worked to bridge the gap between producers and primary production and the standards that they were expected to meet in their daily production of food. In her position with Alberta Quality Pork she supported pork producers in understanding the on-farm food safety and animal care standards they were expected to meet. In her current roll with Alberta Agriculture the AVSN program supports the competitive advantage of the primary production section in Alberta, especially for export commodities and will enable that province to maintain consumer confidence in its domestic markets.

In her brief and stellar career, Sarah has demonstrated strong support of the primary production sector and of the broader agricultural community. It is because of Sarah's success in her career that she has been chosen to receive this year’s Young Alumnus Achievement Award.

Presented by Alumni Association Chair, Arnold Hagen November 14, 2008.