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Students teach, learn at annual CVM open house
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi State University veterinary students learn in the classroom and in the laboratory, but the real test comes when they add in the responsibility of staging the spring open house and teaching the public about animal care and welfare.
For more than two decades, MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine has welcomed children and families to its annual open house. This year, the April 3-4 event was attended by 3,800 visitors.
The open house, celebrating its 25th year, allows children and their families to learn about animal health and behavior while having fun. One of the primary goals of the program is to open the world of veterinary medicine to the community through exhibits, demonstrations and presentations.
In between classes and studying, first- and second-year CVM students plan the event, said Kylee Fent, open house chair and president of MSU’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“We take it seriously,” Fent said. “The committee chairs start meeting in January and then at least every two weeks until the event. We balance our coursework with making sure we plan a successful open house program.”
CVM sophomores serve as event chairs and freshmen serve as co-chairs. The sophomores mentor the freshman co-chairs so that they can pass the baton to them for a smooth transition to conducting the following year’s open house.
One of the committee chairs, CVM student Leslie Koenig, said that planning so far in advance eases the pressure.
“We have plenty of time to work out the details and also focus on our studies,” Koenig said. “It is a good learning experience for us, and we get to work as a team. We work together to choose the theme and the graphic design for the open house booklet.”
CVM faculty members participate by offering assistance and by filling positions the day of the event. CVM associate professor Carla Huston was on elevator duty at this year’s open house.
“We man the positions the students need filled, such as monitoring the hall and elevators, and they run the show,” Huston said. “Our vet students do a great job of juggling all of their responsibilities. They had three exams this week and still dedicated themselves to the event.”
Fent said their hard work paid off as visitors enjoyed this year’s program.
“Younger students really liked the variety of animals, the petting zoo and the dog Frisbee competition. They also seemed to enjoy seeing animals they wouldn’t normally encounter, like unique and exotic pets.”
High school students took the opportunity to talk to veterinary students and faculty about career paths. They asked questions about CVM admission procedures, course work and the types of careers that veterinarians pursue.
“We bring our 10th- through 12th- graders every year that we can,” said Melanie Ford, allied health teacher at McKellar Technology Center in Columbus. “The class I teach covers aspects of veterinary medicine, so the open house fits right into the curriculum.”
Ford said the students’ favorite exhibit is the “Holey Cow,” a research steer that teaches students about the digestive tract of ruminants.
The CVM open house not only teaches children and families about veterinary medicine, but it also educates CVM students about outreach, working with the community and time management.
“All the hard work pays off because it ends up being fun. We get to talk about what we love to do, get others interested in veterinary medicine and show off our school,” Koenig said.
Contact: Tara Puckett, (662) 325-7910 or Chastity Mincy, (662) 325-1103