Arlis Young of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) spends his days as an Animal Health Inspector keeping the state’s livestock healthy and disease-free.

“I have a 15-county area where I’m responsible for inspections and I work in conjunction with the veterinary medical officer,” Young says. “The bulk of my work falls into the dealer category – people who are selling cattle, sheep, pigs and other livestock. I make sure they’re licensed and keeping good records so that if there’s ever a disease outbreak, we can trace the animal back to its original owner.”

Keeping Ohio’s Animals Healthy is a ‘Round the Clock Job

Young says he works mainly with cattle, as there are many cattle operations in the southeastern part of the state, but Ohio has a growing number of sheep and goat sales, and sometimes, he inspects equine sales as well. “I do a little bit of everything,” he says.

While animal inspection is Young’s 9-to-5 job, he lives a double agricultural life in livestock, as he’s also a cattle farmer.

“I grew up in agriculture on our family farm outside of Zanesville. We always dealt with livestock and had a feeder calf operation,” Young says. In 2015, Young bought the farm from his father and re-energized the operation. They now have a 250-head barn as their main operation, raising the cattle to a certain weight and age that precondition them for feedlots, and they grow hay as well. Young says his dad still helps on the farm, as well as his brother – who owns a farm next to his – and his girlfriend.

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How a Farm Background Helped Arlis Young’s Career

Young says that having an agricultural background has been extremely valuable for his ODA career.

“The most important reason you can have for doing a job is to understand why you’re doing it,” he says. “Having that understanding before employment has been great. Not only the understanding of what the industry consists of, but also the reason behind why things are done a certain way and what makes the people in the industry tick.”

He adds that because he’s also involved in production agriculture outside of the normal day-to-day work, it makes it much easier to relate to the people that he interacts with as an animal health inspector.

“I have a much better working relationship with them,” Young says.

Because Young grew up on a farm, he says he learned that agriculture is life at a young age. Through his career at ODA and on his own farm, he is living out his dream.

“When you grow up with agriculture and it’s what you love, you experience the shrinking number of farmers who are feeding the rest of the world. It’s a privilege to be a part of that,” Young says. “I’m providing a huge service to the rest of the country. On both a private and professional level with my career, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”