BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
MARTIN (October 7) – Neighbors helping neighbors is a rural tradition that has forged communities. Agricultural students in Weakley County are benefiting from such a mindset as ties to the University of Tennessee at Martin are providing hands-on learning and, in dual-enrollment cases, college credit.
Jason Roberts, DVM, Professor of Animal Science and UTM’s Program Director for Veterinary Technology, launched the first of the school’s post-pandemic-lockdown presentations to high schools at the Veterinary Science building on Monday. Westview students in David Hochreiter’s animal science class served as the inaugural group.
A brief bus ride landed the 11 Westview students – three of whom are already considering careers as vets – at the lab where vet technician instructors Amanda Waldron, Zach Morphis, and Kelly Garner gave background on small animal surgery, restraint, venipuncture, and ultrasound. Rotating from room to room, groups of three and four were offered opportunities such as using ultrasound to find a vein, drawing blood, and using an EKG device. Since the “patients” were simulators – except for Garner’s boxer Chico who willingly served up his belly for the pats and show and tell of the EKG – no animals were harmed in the making of the learning event.
Roberts explains that the experiences are set up to allow students from West Tennessee high schools to take advantage of at least three vet science offerings. In the coming weeks, Westview will return for a second visit to work with large animals – cattle and horses. The third trip will be centered in the diagnostic lab where they will look at specimens and observe a necropsy.
“This is our way to reach students in the area taking agricultural classes and let them know we’d love for them to come to UTM and study with us,” he said.
“Dual enrollment and opportunities like what these students are experiencing today are invaluable,” said Hochreiter, who is new to Weakley County Schools this year. “In my previous positions, I longed to have this kind of relationship with UTM and am looking forward to future collaborations.”