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Veterinary science resources give kids early start on animal health careers


Kids who love animals and science can start preparing for their animal health career as early as 8 years old via a veterinary science curriculum that is going online nationwide.

"We didn't have to create an interest for this; it's already there," said Dr. Floron "Buddy" Faries. "And that interest has created a demand."

"Veterinary Science: Preparatory Training for the Veterinary Assistant" was written by Faries, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service veterinarian, to meet that demand.

The concept is not new, Faries said, but the new training curriculum was fueled by additional job possibilities in areas such as homeland security, laboratory technology and public health. In fact, the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, funded the project and published the educational resources.

The new curriculum will prepare students for a job as a veterinary assistant or to continue into a college-level program as a veterinary technician or a veterinarian, Faries said.

The course is already being taught to at least 5,000 youths in about 100 Texas counties via 4-H, the youth development arm of AgriLife Extension, he said. It also continues to be used by high school agriculture instructors, as it was approved by the Texas Education Agency.

"Young people often have an interest in veterinary medicine, so we want to satisfy that interest early," Faries said. "And the other side of this is that job opportunities in this field continue to grow."

Much of the job growth in veterinary science is in regulatory matters pertaining to homeland security or global public health issues, he said.

Currently there are more than 95,400 veterinarians practicing in the U.S., about two-thirds of who are in private practice, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The rest work for a variety of public or private entities.

The curriculum has a total of 100 lessons: 75 core lessons in basic veterinary science and 25 lessons in clinical science and technology. Fifty additional lessons are being developed to cover topics such as One Health science and technology (the interface between animal and human health), along with laboratory science and technology for those who wish to pursue non-clinical careers.

Faries said that depending on the student, the curriculum can be accomplished in different ways.

"A 4-H club might opt to offer 20 lessons a year over a five-year period," he said. "Or a high school class might complete the instruction in one year with daily lessons."

With the modernization of the content, additional teaching materials are offered online at http://aevm.tamu.edu. About 100 presentation sessions are available online, and Faries also teaches classes via the Internet.

Though the curriculum is currently structured to meet educational needs of young people, Faries said, a fee-based version is being created online for high school graduates who want to pursue a career as a veterinary assistant.

For more information about the curriculum, see http://aevm.tamu.edu.

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