Happy and Healthy
Sean Granata’s face lights up when he recounts his first two weeks on the job at St. Brigid’s Farm, a 62-acre farm in Kennedyville operated by dairy farmer Judy Gifford and her partner Robert Fry, a large-animal veterinarian. A sophomore biology and business management major, Granata landed the paid internship after an externship experience shadowing veterinarians—including WC alumnus Michelle Crosier ’94—at Lums Pond Animal Hospital over spring break his freshman year.
“I’m working in the barns, milking cows, herding them around, and getting to see how they care for the animals,” says Granata. “The first week, we had a cow with ketosis [a pre-diabetic condition], so I got to see Dr. Fry administer an IV. The following week, another cow had a twisted stomach, which resolved itself before medical intervention. Then it happened,” he says, excitedly. “Judy called me into the birthing pen and I got to see a baby calf being born. I helped with the delivery, I administered an oral vaccine, I treated the calf’s naval, and I got to name her!”
He flips open his phone to show off his pride and joy. The family line of Jersey heifers takes its name from trees; Granata named his beautiful brown calf Willow. She joins a growing herd that consistently ranks among the top-tier herds in the nation on the Jersey Performance Index.
The seasonally-calved herd intensely grazes from April through November. The cows are closely observed and monitored to assure their comfort and well-being. And as this proud papa attests, they’re really part of the family.
“Mass production in any agricultural market leads to shortcuts, in order to offset losses,” says Granata. “St. Brigid’s is all about providing a comfortable environment, making sure they have clean, soft bedding, a daily brushing, and enough room to move around. Judy always says, ‘happy cows are healthy cows.’ And healthy cows produce the best product.”
The son of two medical professionals, Sean Granata ’16 has always known he would go into medicine. In 7th grade he set his sights on veterinary medicine. Before enrolling at Washington College, he took two summer classes at Cornell University—in conservation medicine and small animal veterinary practice.
“My goal is to get into the best veterinary program in the country, which is at Cornell,” Granata says. When he met the biology professors at Washington College during an Admissions Open House, he was convinced that his goal was within reach.
“I had applied to some Ivy league schools and thought Washington College might be too small, but after sitting in on a lab with Professor Martin Connaughton, I decided right then that I would major in biology and take the pre-med track.”
So, how does he explain the second major in business management?
At the animal shelter in Montville, NJ, where Granata volunteered throughout high school, he ran all the promotional events and fundraising drives. And he’s been involved in Relay for Life for six years now; he and Emily Evans ’15 are organizing Washington College’s Relay event in support of the American Cancer Society this April.
“I’ve talked to some veterinarians who regret not pursuing business training,” says Granata. “Having that business degree is one of the smartest things I can do, especially if I want to run my own practice.”
This summer, in order to fulfill the study abroad requirement for his business management major, Granata is pursuing a marketing internship in Ireland. He’ll be working in Dublin for the Irish Cancer Society.
“I’m actually pretty good at marketing things that promote healthy, happy lives.”
Willow couldn’t agree more.