MSU Extension educator to lead chronic wasting disease outreach efforts

Katie Ockert will be tasked with raising awareness, providing educational opportunities and engaging the community and partners in conversations about how to address CWD in local deer populations.

Katie Ockert

Michigan State University Extension has named Katie Ockert to lead the organization’s strategic communication and coordination efforts with local, state and national partners in response to chronic wasting disease.

This position, funded by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant, is a partnership between Michigan State University and the DNR to create, deliver and evaluate local and statewide educational programs around CWD.

Ockert will be tasked with raising awareness, providing educational opportunities and engaging the community and partners in conversations about how to address CWD in local deer populations.

“Katie’s background in developing effective programming in biosecurity education, animal health disease response planning and collaborating with partners will be a valuable asset to MSU Extension and to the state,” said Dave Ivan, director of community, food and environment programming in MSU Extension.

CWD was first detected in a wild, white-tailed deer in Michigan in 2015. To date, CWD-positive deer have been confirmed in nine Michigan counties. CWD is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose populations. Once an animal is infected, there is no recovery or cure. 

Ockert received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and natural resources communications from MSU in 2005 as well as a Master of Public Administration focusing on homeland security in 2013. She has been employed with MSU Extension since 2005, beginning as a county 4-H and animal science educator focused on animal health and zoonotic disease response.

The majority of Ockert’s effort will be dedicated to the CWD-affected counties of Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Newaygo and Mecosta, working with landowners, hunters and community partners to increase understanding, identification and disease management methods.

“I am excited to be a part of this very important work and help people gain a better understanding of chronic wasting disease and its transmission, as well as best practices that are based in scientific research to manage chronic wasting disease,” Ockert said.

For more information about CWD and MSU Extension’s role in this effort, contact Katie Ockert at ockertka@msu.edu or 616-527-8219.

Learn more about CWD research, history, confirmed counties, surveillance areas and more at Michigan.gov/cwd.

CONTACT: Sean Corp, corpsean@msu.edu, 517-884-7083; or Katie Ockert, ockertka@msu.edu, 616-527-8219
PHOTO: High-resolution photo of Katie Ockert


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