WoodsideCrop 2014

Jamie Woodside at the Southeastern Meat Association’s annual convention in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.

Recently, Jamie Woodside started a new job within U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), but she says her life is not just about the occupation. She likes to be an active volunteer and use her expertise to help others. For example, Woodside is on the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Food Safety Advisory Committee. This group discusses and makes recommendations to the Department of Public Health on food safety and issues related to food protection, including regulations, procedures, special issues and concerns from federal, state, local, industry and consumer perspectives. Here is what she said in an interview.

What was your major in the College? When did you graduate? With what degree? In 2007, I received a BS in animal science.

What class was most useful to you? I think of three courses, animal food products, principles of poultry science and food microbiology and safety. The last one was the most useful in what I do now, but all of them helped me see that animal science is broader than I originally thought. I discovered that an animal science background is extremely versatile and offers career opportunities beyond farming and veterinary science.

Tell us some of your fond memories of UConn. I love UConn Dairy Bar ice cream, especially mint chocolate chip milkshakes when the chips sink to the bottom. During my undergraduate tenure, I enjoyed working at the dairy and horse barns, including milking the cows and caring for the horses. In addition, I spent time hanging out on Horsebarn Hill sledding, walking and watching sunsets. Attending UConn athletic events, such as the women’s and men’s basketball games at Gampel Pavilion, was fun, too.

Please describe your current job. I have held several positions with USDA FSIS since 2010, including one year in Washington, D.C. at headquarters in the Outreach and Partnership division developing outreach and education materials for consumers, academia, industry, FSIS employees, and other stakeholders in regards to food safety principles. Now, I am concluding the training phase of a new position within the organization. I work in Recall Management and Technical Analysis, which means I orchestrate recalls of USDA-regulated food products across the country.

I participate in investigating contamination incidents and foodborne illness outbreaks, and I speak to producers about voluntary recalls. In addition, I encourage the development and implementation of new food science technologies and new inspection methods.

Woodside USDAdisplay

An exhibit at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia

Because this is a nationwide position, Washington, D.C., is my headquarters, but I work out of Hartford. My work has a wide scope. So far in 2015, we had 124 recalls.

Are you doing what you imagined you would be doing at this point in your life? Initially, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Therefore, I chose my UConn major based on a desire to get into vet school. During my second year of college, I discovered opportunities in food science, which suited my interests better.

Do you have any advice for current students that will help them in the future? 1) Don’t be close-minded.
2) Take all the opportunities you can, such as an internship, to help you get an idea of what you would like to do.
3) Work hard.
4) Get involved in groups that interest you and are similar to your career path.
5) Check out https://www.usajobs.gov to find out about all sorts of jobs that you could do in the federal government with a CAHNR major.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I visit campus to speak to students at CAHNR Career Night and in classes. I assist with the UConn Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) course for meat and poultry processors, which takes place in Storrs approximately twice per year. This course is designed to provide the processor with a basic understanding of food safety principles and the USDA FSIS regulations as they relate to designing an adequate food safety system.

I attended the course in 2007 as an undergraduate, and I have been assisting with the course as a guest lecturer since 2011. I teach the regulatory requirements pertaining to USDA FSIS meat and poultry processing to individuals attending the course. They travel to UConn from other states in New England, New York and Pennsylvania to attend.

I have a Master of Public Health degree from UConn, which I finished in 2015.

I think it is important to make time for yourself and achieve a work-life balance. I love the outdoors and being out there with my three dogs. I spend time hiking, snowshoeing and running. In addition, I like to bake, especially apple pies.

By Patsy Evans