Idaho veterinarian advocates for agriculture

TWIN FALLS — Dr. Elizabeth Quesnell Kohtz took her experience on the family dairy and translated it into a career.

Now Kohtz is using her career to spread awareness and promote agriculture.

Kohtz is one of 10 young agriculture professionals chosen nationally to take part in the Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners in Agriculture Leadership (PAL) honors program.

The focus of the PAL program is to enhance participants’ leadership skills and aid them in applying their skills for the benefit of agriculture, according to the Farm Bureau.

Intense, hands-on training takes place in four sessions over two years, followed by graduation in Washington, D.C.

Kohtz traveled to New York City in June 2013 for the first session, which focused on “storytelling,” she said.

“We were given a topic — ‘antibiotic use in animals’ — and learned to talk to the media by working with real reporters,” Kohtz said.

“It taught me how to tell my story and how to advocate for agriculture.”

Being able to tell her story comes in handy when ag laws need changing, she said.

Kohtz, a Magic Valley native whose veterinarian services are contracted with Cedar Ridge Dairy south of Filer, said current law makes it illegal for a veterinarian to carry certain drugs in a vehicle, sometimes preventing her from treating a sick animal at the dairy.

That law is out of touch with modern animal husbandry, she said, and is one the industry is trying to change.

In the second PAL program training session, held in Washington, D.C., the group put their new storytelling skills to work in a mock legislative atmosphere, “as if we were going to lobby Congress” to change a law or make a new one, Kohtz said.

The third session — held in Brazil — was the first international training in the history of the 13-year-old PAL program. That session focused on the global economy — for example, how a consumer in Brazil can affect agriculture in the U.S.

Kohtz will attend one more session in September before graduating from the program in February 2015.

Kohtz also owns and operates a milk quality lab and she is a Twin Falls County Farm Bureau Federation board member.

Her husband, Steven, is a doctor at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. The Kohtzes have two daughters, Arabella and Josephine.