Bret Marsh stands next to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health’s sign. Marsh has been Indiana state veterinarian since 1994. He is both passionate about his job and the people he interacts with.
Bret Marsh stands next to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health’s sign. Marsh has been Indiana state veterinarian since 1994. He is both passionate about his job and the people he interacts with.
INDIANAPOLIS — A poster displaying Indiana’s outline and the simple words, “this is home” hangs in Bret Marsh’s office as a reminder.

Indiana is home to Marsh, the Indiana state veterinarian. It is where he was born and raised, where he went to school, where his passion for animals was confirmed and where he started working with first the Indiana Health Department and now the Indiana Board of Animal Health.

Marsh graduated from Purdue University with a degree in animal science in 1981 and then his doctor of veterinary medicine in 1984. He first worked as director of the swine health programs at the state board of animal health before stepping in as state veterinarian in 1994, where he remains.

No two days are the same for Marsh, but he stays within the four general mission areas of animal health, disaster preparedness, food safety and animal care.

Q: When did you know you were interested in animal health?

A: I knew I wanted to do this when I was a freshman in high school. A veterinarian in Lebanon, Russ Hardin, was my mentor and let me job shadow him.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in rural Boone County. My father was in livestock sales and my mother became a nurse. Between the two of them, I was interested in this field.

Q: What does your job entail?

A: I’m responsible for overseeing animal health programs, disaster preparedness/biosecurity, food safety initiatives and other animal care programs like neglect and dog breeders.

Q: What do you enjoy about your job?

A: I enjoy producer and veterinarian meetings. That is how I keep grounded. I love meeting with people and anticipating what’s next. I’ve interacted with great people from veterinarians and farmers to producers, Purdue Extension representatives and others across the state.

We also have great board members and staff who are not only passionate about their jobs at the state board of animal health, but are also recognized nationally.

Q: What are challenges you have faced?

A: Diseases you don’t have answers for, like porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Animal cruelty cases continue to be a challenge, as well.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: My wife, Polly, is a kindergarten teacher. I tell people my stories at the dinner table never beat her stories. We met at Purdue University and now live in Carmel with two children who are in high school.

Q: What are you most passionate about in your job?

A: There is a reason I went into public service. I believe the government can work for the people, and I believe I can use my training and time to help provide quality of services to the state. I enjoy it, I believe it and I believe we’re striving to do better.

Q: What advice do you have for others interested in doing something similar?

A: Our agency encourages students to come and job shadow someone. We also have summer internships. My advice is to first become aware of available options like this and then to approach an office or business and get experience.