Five people representing the academic quadrathlon team stand with their thumbs out and one holds a plaque. They are dressed nicely.
The Texas A&M Department of Animal Science academic quadrathlon team, from left to right, Zachary Hoelscher; Carson Carter; Sushil Paudyal, Ph.D., assistant professor and team coordinator; Brittley Bowers and Michael Penner qualified to represent their region at the American Society of Animal Science national contest. (Courtesy photo)

The Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal Science academic quadrathlon team secured first place at the Southern Regional American Society of Animal Science, ASAS, Academic Quadrathlon Contest. The contest was recently held in Louisville, Kentucky, and marked the fourth consecutive win for a Texas A&M team.

Team members include animal science students Brittley Bowers ’25, Fredericksburg; Carson Carter ’26, Iola; Zachary Hoelscher ’25, Robinson; and Michael Penner ’25, Alvarado. Their knowledge and skills were tested in various areas of animal science and agriculture against 17 other university teams from across the southern U.S.

The 2024 team swept the contest by placing first in each section, which included a quiz bowl, lab practicum, written exam and oral presentation.

Contest provides unique learning experience, builds practical skills

As one of the 10 competitive teams in the Department of Animal Science, students on the academic quadrathlon team build important leadership, public speaking, critical thinking and time management skills. According to the team’s coordinator Sushil Paudyal, Ph.D., assistant professor of dairy science, Bryan-College Station, the depth of study the students receive from the department’s robust curriculum prepared students to achieve such a high level of success.

“Our students have a competitive edge in this competition because our animal science curriculum provides dynamic and challenging hands-on learning experiences,” Paudyal said. “Team members are able to take full advantage of the depths of proficiency found in our department thanks to the support from faculty and graduate students at Texas A&M.”

A meeting-type set up facing four students on one side and four students on another side with a judge or announcer in the middle. They face forward and the backs of chairs and audience are seen.
The Texas A&M Department of Animal Science academic quadrathlon team competes during the quiz bowl section of the contest in Louisville, Kentucky. The Academic Quadrathlon Contest includes four sections of competition: quiz bowl, lab practicum, written exam and oral presentation. (Courtesy photo)

The contest is a unique learning experience that tests the students’ practical and scientific skills in all areas of animal science. According to the ASAS website, the laboratory practicum requires the team to demonstrate physical skills working at stations involving animal species or a disciplinary area such as nutrition or reproduction. For the written exam portion, team members have 60 minutes to answer animal production or product questions. The oral presentation requires students to choose an animal agriculture topic and make a 15-minute presentation. Finally, the quiz bowl is organized as a double-elimination tournament beginning with “toss up” questions that must be answered individually, followed by collaborative “bonus” questions allowing teams a chance to earn extra points.  

Academic quadrathlon contests are held at the local, regional and national levels. The 2024 Texas A&M team was selected during a local contest supported by the department’s Animal Science Graduate Student Association in the fall 2023 semester. The competition replicated the regional and national contests.

The team will now prepare for the National ASAS Academic Quadrathlon Contest scheduled for July in Calgary, Canada, where they will represent the southern section and compete against first-place teams from the Midwest, Northeast and Western sections of ASAS. Texas A&M teams have been named champion or reserve champions at the last three national competitions.

“We wish the academic quadrathlon team the best of luck at the next level of competition,” said Clay Mathis, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Animal Science. “The success of this team demonstrates their commitment to excellence. Dr. Paudyal and our students have positively represented the department through their time, dedication and service, and we are proud of their success.”

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