Enduring Gift Helps Make Dreams Come True

He graduated from veterinary school more than 100 years ago and worked 1,125 miles away from Raleigh, but Joseph Edward Salsbury continues to shape the lives of NC State College of Veterinary Medicine students excitedly preparing for careers of their own.

The J.E. Salsbury Foundation awarded $100,000 to the CVM in 1985, the year its first class graduated. The resulting Salsbury Endowed Scholarship Fund assists fourth-year students with the costs of their final year of veterinary training.

It was just the second major gift the college ever received, and one of numerous similar gifts the foundation gave to colleges of veterinary medicine around the country to advance veterinary medicine.

This year, four CVM students each received $4,500 from the endowment — Ashley Gavitt, Jennine Lection, Jennifer Schneider and Samantha Sommer. The endowment has had a tremendous impact on Gavitt, the first member of her immediate family to not only attend college but also go onto a professional school.

My parents could not afford to put money aside for a college fund for my education,” said Gavitt. “Scholarships such as this one help make all of these opportunities I have now possible.”

The endowment helps students with necessities, such as tuition and books, but also provides the freedom to explore various veterinary medicine specialties. Sommer said receiving the scholarship made it possible for her to travel to several veterinary institutions to explore post-graduation internship and residency programs.

Salsbury’s own veterinary medicine path was remarkable. After graduating from the Kansas City Veterinary College in 1914, he established a local veterinary practice and a decade later founded Dr. Salsbury Laboratories in Charles City, Iowa, producing medicinal products for parasite and disease control in poultry. Later, the business expanded to include biological products for the animal health industry.

My parents could not afford to put money aside for a college fund for my education,” said Gavitt. “Scholarships such as this one help make all of these opportunities I have now possible.”

A pioneer in poultry health management, Salsbury was as a pivotal figure in the expansion of the poultry industry from small family farms to specialized big businesses. Veterinary medicine historian O.H.V. Stalheim said Salsbury best perceived the need for dependable poultry products.

“The career of this veterinarian-entrepreneur-businessman-benefactor illustrated the developments that saved the faltering poultry industry from diseases and parasites,” wrote Stalheim.

Even as his company quickly became the leader in developing useful medicines for the industry, Salsbury made teaching a priority. He led free courses on poultry diseases for farmers and later published editions his own poultry health manual. Salsbury’s vision anticipated both the formal study of poultry science and the poultry industry’s partnership with pharmaceutical companies.

His original company eventually evolved into two entities and, during the rise of big pharmaceutical companies, it engaged in various corporate mergers and acquisitions, finally disappearing as an independent organization. Salsbury died in 1967, and his company’s original corporate headquarters is now a community museum in Charles City.

The scholarship does not require a focus on poultry medicine. Lection said it has allowed her to visit top equine hospitals around the country and complete an externship in New Zealand where she focused on dairy cattle medicine.

And for Schneider, the scholarship eased a path down a course of study she had long been eager to explore.

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Receiving the scholarship was very humbling for me,” said Schneider. “[It] has helped me to pursue my studies of veterinary acupuncture, something I have been interested in even before veterinary school. I am extremely grateful for the Salsbury Endowed Scholarship and the opportunities it provides to my classmates and colleagues.”

For more information on the J.E. Salsbury Scholarship and others like it, go to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation website here.

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine