By Lon Tegels
College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Arkansas Forest Resources Center
U of A System Division of Agriculture
• Animal Science professor lands UAM job through Christian Veterinarian Mission connection
• Global connection to Brazil helps bring world perspective to CFANR classroom
• UAM adds additional animal science associate professor with diverse background
MONTICELLO, Ark. — A missionary group may have drawn away one of UA-Monticello’s veterinarians, but it also had a hand in bringing in his replacement.
UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources has welcomed Dr. Maribel Nelson, a veterinarian who comes aboard as an assistant professor teaching animal science courses.
Nelson is taking up where Dr. Rocky Lindsey, DVM, is leaving off. Lindsey moved to part-time at UAM to ramp up his work with the Christian Veterinarian’s Mission (CVM). The Christian Veterinarians Mission is a common link between Nelson and Lindsey.
The two attended CVM’s national conference in Kansas City,and while neither Lindsey nor Nelson remember meeting each other there, it gave them some common friends.
Lindsey was on the search committee that recruited Nelson. Lindsey said when the job came open, “I mentioned it to some of the locals in the group. Out of the regional reps one of those people mentioned Dr. Maribel Nelson as a potential candidate.”
Lindsey and Nelson talked by phone.
“She told me she wanted to impact a lot of people, most people she could for good, both inside and outside of the classroom, and she was excited to be able to potentially teach,” said Lindsey
“She stood out the most, and it was very clear to the whole committee,” said Lindsey.
Nelson is a native of Brazil, who came to America after practicing veterinary medicine there.l.
She graduated from Veterinary School in 2007 from the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil. She also has an MBA in Agribusiness Management from the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil.
She did her internship at Brazil Foods, working at their poultry plant as a Quality Assurance Veterinarian.
“One of the main goals was to improve animal welfare and meat quality” Nelson said. Arriving at the plant, “The animals would get so panicked that we would get a lot of bruising from the birds as a result of being freaked out.”
Nelson says she eventually found a solution. “We reduced the light intensity for these animals in their environment and allowed them to rest for a longer time in the darker environment and that helped a lot.”
Nelson also worked for the same company as a veterinarian consultant for the swine nutrition and a genetics company supporting the sales team.
In addition, she has run her own clinic and a pet shop.
Looking for a change
In 2014, “I was looking for something more on my career. I wanted a shift. God sent me a blessing, a plan,” Nelson said. “I was looking for something more in my career but I didn’t know what.”
“I was looking for volunteer jobs and found out about Christian Veterinary Mission on Google. We went on mission to Nicaragua with veterinarian group from the U.S.,” she said. “We helped more than 800 animals. We treated all kinds of animals in that week that the community brought to us.”
Nelson said she wanted to remain involved with the group and become more involved and at the same time work on her English. That led to a 2015 national conference in United States.
“I eventually met my husband, Ted Nelson, through Christian Mingle,” she said. After a courtship from April to August 2015 and many trips between Brazil and the United States they eventually got married in 2016, where she moved to the Kansas City area with the help of her fiancé’s visa.
In the U.S., Nelson worked for Ceva Biomune in Lenexa, Kansas, as an animal service supervisor from 2017-2020, leading the experimental poultry farm.
Nelson is now in a UAM classroom teaching animal science after a two-year hiatus that including having a child. During that time, she also worked as a fitness instructor/personal trainer and held a top 10 leadership role with Mary Kay Cosmetics — and no — she doesn’t drive a pink Cadillac.
Life at UAM
Nelson just completed her first two weeks of classes. “It’s been very challenging in some ways because I was out of the field for a few years, but at the same time it is encouraging,” she said. “I’m pleased to be reading and studying again and getting back to what’s going on in the field and beef industry.”
“She has a more global perspective than we do,” said Lindsey. “All the agriculture faculty here are Americans. She brings a global perspective, and she’s had to work hard in her industry to move up as a female and as a foreign national. All those things just made her stand out.”
“In her first two weeks, we’ve learned that Dr. Nelson is very good with students. She relates to the students well and students seem to like her,” said Lindsey, “She’s going be a great addition.”
About the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center
The College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a University of Arkansas System Center of Excellence, brings together interdisciplinary expertise through a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The College and Center are headquartered at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus, but their programs range statewide with the mission of developing and delivering teaching, research, and extension programs that enhance and ensure the sustainability and productivity of forest-based natural resources and agricultural systems. Academic programs are delivered by the College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources through the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, research is administered by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and extension and outreach activities are coordinated by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
The University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offer all of their programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and are Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employers.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.