BERLIN, Pa. — Dr. Bill Croushore, 49, from Somerset County, has a mission to be a “voice in agriculture” that goes beyond his daily routine as a large-animal veterinarian.
“We in agriculture have to fight the GMO activists, the almond milk activists, the animal rights activists and so on. And they all want to talk about how the farmer is greedy and doesn’t care about animals or the environment, and the farmer just cares about the profit,” Croushore said. “People get these messages nowadays from so many different angles and none of it is true.”
Croushore has spent the last 22 years working alongside farmers, mostly at dairy operations.
“You have to be able to communicate with the client,” Croushore said. “You can be the best surgeon in the world, but if you don’t make it a point to communicate with the client about what is ailing their critter, and the options to solve the problem, then you are defeating your own purpose.”
Those communication skills and that underlying mission have given rise first to Croushore’s weekly column, written for the Daily American newspaper in Somerset since 2009. And now he has penned a recently published 12-chapter book titled, “Oops ..., and other Words You Don’t Like to Hear your Surgeon Say.”
The book is centered on 100 of the best and most popular columns, called “The View from the Back 40,” and includes advice on how to tip a cow, how to keep a new vet truck from smelling like cow poop and even why a farmer would make a great president.
“It is stories about a large animal vet and his day-to-day experiences, but the target audience is not farmers, but people who don’t know anything about agriculture,” explained Croushore.
Just like any other discipline, agriculture comes with its own jargon. But Croushore tries to steer clear of words and phrases that the general public might not know. Instead, he tries to incorporate humor and information that is enlightening to pull together a message about agriculture.
“I try to be relatable in the column,” he said. “Agriculture really doesn’t have a voice, so I am one of many little voices trying to do my part.”
Croushore didn’t start out as a veterinarian. He first graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh with a pharmacy degree in 1992.
Growing up in Ruffs Dale in Westmoreland County, he spent some time at his uncle’s small cow farm and helped him in the summers. His father, Bill Sr., graduated from and taught at Delaware Valley College with a degree in ruminant nutrition, so the young Bill had some early exposure to livestock and farming.
But, after graduating from Southmoreland High School in 1987, he headed out to Duquesne. About halfway through the five-year pharmacy program, he realized he wanted to be a veterinarian. He had an internship at a retail Giant Eagle pharmacy and he started questioning his life decision to become a pharmacist.
“I had one of those moments when I thought ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’” Croushore said. “I knew I wanted to work in agriculture and it seemed like a good fit because of the pharmacy background.”
His biology professor at Duquesne advised him that before he made the same mistake twice, to go and work with a vet for a while.
Croushore had a friend in Gibsonia who was a vet for small animals. After helping him, Croushure knew what he wanted to do.
He graduated from Duquesne with a pharmacy degree and then worked for a year as a pharmacist in southwest Virginia so he could become a permanent resident there.
“I had no second thoughts after that,” he said. “If anything, working in pharmacy for a year gave me the drive to go to vet school.”
He started vet school in August 1993 and recieved his doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1997 from Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. While he was attending vet school, he married the former Sheila Thompson of Connellsville in 1995. The couple now have two children, Nolan, 17, and Bena, 13, both students at Rockwood Area High School in Somerset County.
Croushore began his professional life as a vet at Camboro Veterinary Hospital in Edinboro, Erie County, at a mixed practice where they worked with any animal species. Then in April 2002, Croushore’s family moved to Somerset County to work for White Oak Vet Clinic near Berlin.
Jennifer Haughton worked at White Oak at that time and had been a classmate from Virginia Tech, so she made Croushore aware of the job opening in Somerset County.
“I concentrated on cows in vet school and had an internship on food animals ... dairy in Pennsylvania is the biggest food animal,” Croushore said. “Somerset County has always been known as an area for dairy farms. We love it here.”
He also does collections for in vitro fertilization at Herr Angus in Chester County twice a month.
When he started writing his weekly column, one of his readers emailed him and told him he should write a book. He said that comment “planted the seed” for later on.
So, early last year, he met with his editors and proposed the idea of a unified work, which has now become the 247-page chronicle.
Croushore wrote the introduction and put a compilation of columns together, along with photos.
He laughs about the title of his book. Once, while operating on a cow in Erie County, he said “Oops,” and the cow’s owner said, “That’s a word you don’t like to hear your surgeon say.” Croushore said he never forgot that day and thought it would be a good title.
Croushore also is a contributing author to other publications, including Keystone Cattlemen and The Pinzgauer Journal.
“There is a lot of misinformation in the urban areas ... and that’s where I hope this book goes — to people in the suburbs,” he said. “It’s a local column, but the book can be read and appreciated by anyone outside of Somerset County. These are generic stories about cows and farmers, and the culture. It could be read by someone in California or Texas or Maine, and still be appreciated.”
The book can be purchased through the website: made-in-somerset-county.myshopify.com.