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LHS senior, Paxton Dubbelde, earns AI certification

Paxton Dubbelde received her AI school certificate from instructor SDSU Extension cow/calf field specialist Robin Salverson earlier this year.

For one Lennox High School senior, she already has one certification before high school graduation.

Paxton Dubbelde earned her certification in cattle artificial insemination (AI) for dairy and beef cattle through South Dakota State University’s AI school at the SDSU Cow/Calf Unit in January. She was one of the only girls there and the only high school student.

“I was a little bit intimidated at first, but once I realized I was one of the only people there that had experience, I was OK,” she said.

Each day of AI school was full days worth of work. They spent a couple of days in the classroom and the rest of the time in the beef barn with the cows.

Dubbelde’s first experience with AI came through a youth AI camp hosted by Lincoln County 4-H at Tri-Valley High School in 2021.

“That was when I first fell in love and this is what I want to do with my life,” she said. “Even when we were learning the stuff in the classroom I was in awe and this is the coolest thing ever - science and agriculture all in one is right up my alley.”

Last year, she went to a youth AI camp in Madison where she met SDSU Extension cow/calf field specialist Robin Salverson. That’s where she learned about SDSU AI School. Dubbelde shadowed an AI technician before she went to the Madison camp where she got to AI a cow for the first time.

The most challenging part of artificial insemination for Dubbelde is getting her hands around the cervix because her hands are so small. Through AI school, Dubbelde learned she’s ambidextrous. 

“One thing my professor was saying is she was shocked because we found I was ambidextrous. I can go in with my right or left hand, which is a good thing because if my right arm gets tired, I can just switch to my left,” she said.

While she has her certification to artificially inseminate cattle, Dubbelde’s goal is to get into horse artificial insemination. Her uncle wants to take her to North Carolina where her cousin is an equine veterinarian.

“Since our family is a big horse family and big into working horses, I think that would be really cool,” she said. “Another reason I want to get into it is because it’s not very popular around this area.”

With her certification, she hopes to AI some cows for her uncles and family friends. She also hopes to get into a dairy.

Once she graduates from high school in May, Dubbelde plans to go to Southeast Technical College to become a veterinary technician. 

“I chose that path because it’s right up my alley and I can still be in the cattle field and still help dairy barns with artificial insemination and that type of thing, but I’ll have more variety of animal species,” she said.


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