‘Perfect Timing’

Hannah Twenter recounts her journey from student to instructor and advisor in Animal Sciences

Hannah Twenter

Hannah Twenter originally applied to Mizzou as a freshman business major wanting to pursue real estate. However, her dad didn’t want her to leave her home state of Illinois for a business degree as she could earn that nearly anywhere. She was determined to pursue her education out-of-state, so her dad suggested animal sciences instead. Twenter says that was the best recommendation he ever gave her. By the time she stepped on campus in the fall of 2009, her major was declared as animal sciences.

During her undergraduate career, Twenter gained valuable hands-on experience through the equine program, and found it incredibly interesting because she’d never had horses before. By the time she reached her senior year, she was selected as the equine farm manager, working closely with her advisor Marci Crosby, equine instructor in the Division of Animal Sciences.

As Twenter neared graduation, she knew she wasn’t finished with her educational journey; however, she needed a pause from taking classes. Crosby encouraged her to take an internship upon graduation so there would be a set end date, as opposed to beginning a full-time career. So, Twenter did just that, working for a year at Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Lab.

This internship paved the way for her to complete her master’s degree at Colorado State University, while also teaching courses, and Twenter said this experience solidified that she loved teaching as much as she originally thought.

“This job opened up at Mizzou right as I was getting ready to graduate, so it was perfect timing.” Twenter said.

Although the initial description of her new student support specialist position carried a broad scope of teaching and advising responsibilities, Twenter thought it was a good fit for her because she wasn’t tied to working with a certain species.

Student herds cattle
One of Twenter’s Biology of Animal Production I students gaining hands-on learning about modern livestock production systems and management of production animals.

She returned to campus in 2016 and jumped right back into the equine side of things, filling in for Crosby while she was out for the semester. The next semester, Twenter picked up teaching Biology of Animal Production II that focuses on monogastric animals like pigs, chickens and horses – a course she still teaches today, along with the introductory-level Biology of Animal Production I.

Twenter has continued to add courses to her teaching slate every semester – including a poultry production class. She also facilitates Freshman Interest Groups in the fall and advises around 50 undergraduate students, with a few others “unofficially.” In 2022, Twenter received the Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor Award at CAFNR’s Celebration of Excellence ceremony.

“Hannah’s advising activities extend well beyond traditional advising. She advises the whole student,” said Trista Strauch, assistant teaching professor in the Division of Animal Sciences.

“When students were asked to provide letters supporting Hannah’s nomination for this award, many replied with ‘Thank you for the opportunity to support Hannah’s nomination.’ They feel so passionately about the work that Hannah does and were excited to write a letter on her behalf.”

Twenter is also managing the university poultry farm, and she recently was awarded Student Fee Capital Improvement funding so that a dedicated teaching space can be built at the farm.  As such a space doesn’t exist yet, she hopes this will make a more usable location for all animal sciences students.

In addition to her already-busy advising and teaching schedule, Twenter also serves as the travelling advisor to the Animal Sciences Academic Quadrathlon team. Mizzou’s Quadrathlon team has taken home top honors in both the regional and national competitions for the past few years.

“As advisor, I mostly serve as their chaperone on trips because we’re not supposed to coach the students, so that’s even more incredible that the students do so well without any coaching. It speaks highly of our students’ abilities,” Twenter says.

When asked her favorite part of working in Animal Sciences, Twenter says it’s the people. She added that everyone works together well in both Animal Sciences and within CAFNR as a whole. Compassion and grace lead the charge to help faculty, staff and students on days when they need a little extra.

“Hannah is truly the Swiss Army Knife of our division,” says Bryon Wiegand, director of the Division of Animal Sciences. “She does it all, and she does it well.”