The second individual that I interviewed was Mr. Gorden Reger. Gorden is a Louisiana Tech University graduate with an Animal Science degree. Until the Louisiana Tech Farm Dairy was shut down, Gorden was the operator and manager of the entire dairy production. Since the shutdown of the dairy, Gorden has been the manager and operator of the Louisiana Tech University Meat Science Laboratory. The Meat Science Laboratory is the processing plant that all Louisiana Tech livestock go through in order to become the final products for human consumption. As one might imagine, this can be an extremely dangerous job.
To begin this interview, I asked Gorden the same simple question as the first interview: How does technical writing apply to us in this field? He too was quick to provide me with a very informative list of important factors that technical writing plays in the everyday routine of this aspect of livestock production. The first fact that he pointed out was the number of various pieces of equipment that are used in this field. Each piece of equipment came accompanied by a data sheet, instructions for use, instructions for assembly, safety warnings, information regarding any protective equipment necessary to operate this equipment, and so on. Without these pieces of technical documentation, the equipment would be seemingly useless and dangerous to any individual that tried to operate it. Without these documents, very little would be achieved during the workday. Another aspect of technical writing that Gorden pointed out was publications and research on what the consumer market currently prefers. In order for a profit to be made, it is imperative that the Louisiana Tech Meat Science Laboratory is producing the products that the consumer is in search of. Without these publications, there would be a substantial amount of loss, both financially and productively. Another note that Gorden touched on is the regular publications of market prices and market trends in livestock. In order for products to be priced both fairly and profitably, there must always be a knowledge of what products are worth. In this business, this value fluctuates constantly and can substantially change in a matter of one single day. Gorden also discussed the use of technical writing in recipes. In order for a product to be produced and sold to the public, it must be approved and constant in its ingredients and preparation. Without technical writing, there would be no approval of products to be produced and sold. Technical writing also provides us with a pathway in which we can give explicit instructions on how to replicate the production of products consistently every single time. If an accident were to occur during the workday, this would have to be disclosed and explained in a technical document, as well. Working alongside health inspectors, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, every bit of paper work that enters and leaves the Meat Science Laboratory is considered a technical document.
There is no doubt that technical writing is present in every aspect of a scientific field. These documents can be present in many forms including accident reports, recipes, safety instructions, and so forth. Technical writing provides us with a sense of consistency, understanding, and safety in every part of our work day.
The first interview I conducted for my blog posts was with Dr. Mark Murphey, a graduate from Texas A&M University with a doctorate in Animal Science. Dr. Murphey is an Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech University and has a lifetime of experience with animals ranging from maintaining the health of newborn animals to meat production. Since I am attending Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine beginning in August, this is a field that affects my career and life in all aspects. Though Dr. Murphey is a PhD doctor, as opposed to a veterinarian, he has spent his career preparing students for veterinary school, as well as working alongside veterinarians. To begin the interview, I asked Dr. Murphey one simple question: How does technical writing apply in our field of business? We went on to discuss a number of different aspects of our current and future careers and the conversation ended up being extremely enlightening. First and foremost, the fields of animal science and veterinary science are technical fields. Those who are practitioners of each are scientist. Headway is made in both fields through experiments, research, trials, failures, and successes. In order to communicate the results of any of these experiments, there must be documentation. This documentation is done in the form of a technical report, academic article, and other publications that allow for the public and other scientists to see the work that has been performed and the results that have been obtained. In fact, without technical writing, we would be very far behind our current standing in these fields. Without the research there is no need for technical writing. With this being said, technical writing provides us with a pathway to communicate with one another in clear, common, understandable terms. One might be able to even say that the ability to communicate our knowledge technically is equally as valuable as the research that was conducted in order to obtain the knowledge itself.
As a veterinarian or producer of livestock, technical writing can play a very valuable role in a number of other ways, as well. Technical writing is a field that is extremely open and flexible, allowing it to touch on publications such as data sheets, instructions, directions, advertisements, and the list goes on and on. It is important for the health and safety of animals and humans that products have clear directions and information including warning labels, doses, and information such as withdrawal times. These labels allow for the consumer to be safe and properly treated by insuring that the veterinarian has all of the necessary information to make sure that pharmaceuticals are being administrated properly. This information also provides the veterinarian with any potential threats that this pharmaceutical may pose to them, as well as instructions on how to handle the situation properly if it were ingested. From a production standpoint, technical writing plays an extremely important role in advertisement. Many multi-million dollar cattle operations exist across the United States. However, without proper advertisement, people would not travel across the country in order to buy livestock from these particular farms, simply because they would not be aware of what was there for them to purchase. I am very thankful that I was able to do this interview with Dr. Murphey, simply because it opened my eyes to the important role that technical writing plays, even in the life of a simple cattle producer or large animal veterinarian.