Animal Health Students Take Hands-On Learning to Heart

Aug. 30, 2017 ~ One-quarter of the AgDiscovery program participants at Iowa State University this summer are students in the Animal Health Academy at Olathe North High School. And a fifth North student, who moved to Kentucky this summer, was accepted to the Kentucky State University camp.

Eighty-five students applied to the Iowa State camp, and only 16 were selected to spend two weeks in July learning about careers in plant and animal science, as well as wildlife management. Their hands-on learning took them into science labs and on field trips. Abigail Basile, Allison Burnett, Jacey Rogers and Mario Schneider came away from the camp with many unique experiences that will help them in class this year as well as in their career choices.

"This was an amazing opportunity for our students and well deserved," Animal Health Academy Facilitator James Estes said. "It opens the door to encourage other Animal Health students to put themselves out there and take advantage of opportunities and resources around them."

Writing an application for AgDiscovery was a career and literacy assignment for freshman and sophomore Animal Health students. Although they were not required to submit the application, students gained the experience of writing to specific requirements.

"We want our students to be comfortable with the idea of submitting applications for opportunities, be it college, scholarships, employment or unique experiences like AgDiscovery," Estes explained. "Knowing what an application is looking for in specific terms is an important part of developing that comfort level."

Now that the four students are back in class at Olathe North, they will have an opportunity to share their knowledge with other students.

"They have gained a breadth of knowledge that will continue to build on the leadership qualities all Animal Health students have," Estes said.

Abby Basile Aids in Cow 'Birth'

"Today I helped a fake cow give birth, did microbiology and went to a pig farm." "Our counselor said he had never in all his years working seen an opportunity to see and do something like that."

Those two texts from sophomore Abby Basile to her mom, Ruthie Basile, were indicative of her excitement over being accepted into the AgDiscovery program at Iowa State.

"I wanted to apply for the program because the opportunity to get hands-on experience in veterinary medicine instructed by professionals is an offer I couldn't pass up," Abby said. "The amount of variety the agricultural and veterinary field has to offer was beyond what I had ever known."

Ruthie Basile knew her daughter would face some stiff competition from other students who applied for the limited-enrollment program.

"My reaction to hearing that Abby had been accepted into ISU's AgDiscovery program was complete excitement," Ruthie said. "The impact a camp like this offers is far reaching and life-altering for every student lucky enough to attend one."

Veterinary Career Calls Allison Burnett

Senior Allison Burnett finds it difficult to name her favorite part of the AgDiscovery program. She has a "newfound passion" for microbiology after lessons in the laboratory. Then there were the varied skills she picked up to use in her future career as a veterinarian: drawing blood, suturing wounds, using an anesthesia machine, handling wounds, etc. Above all, the variety of experiences was life-changing.

"Not very many people can say they held a baby ostrich, stuck their arm inside of a fistulated cow, wrangled a sheep, made ice cream with liquid nitrogen, touched a rhino, held a red-tailed hawk, or walked an alpaca, but I can, thanks to AgDiscovery," Allison said.

"Allison has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 3 years old," said her parents, Jason and Nichole Burnett. "She has attended camps through Animal Health Academy at Mahaffie Farmstead and the Kansas City Zoo which gave her a behind-the-scenes look at many different careers in the animal industry. The two weeks at AgDiscovery allowed her to participate in activities she couldn't anywhere else.

"This 21st Century Academy and the outstanding academic opportunities of Olathe North have definitely prepared Allison for her future."

Future Zoologist Jacey Rogers

As a junior in the Animal Health Academy, this is Jacey Rogers' third year to study animals and consider her future career. Her main goal of participating in the AgDiscovery program was to learn as much as possible about a variety of animals. She found the lab experiments educational and fun, and most liked visiting several nature centers and animal reserves.

"We were just one hour out of Ames and I was already getting texts from her saying she loved it," her mom, Jill Rogers, said.

Jacey and Jill's enthusiasm for the Animal Health Academy was confirmed after they heard comments from other AgDiscovery camp members.

"During the closing ceremonies of the camp, several students mentioned to their parents that Jacey's high school has a great Animal Health program where they get to do a lot of 'cool' stuff and wished their high schools had something similar," Jill Rogers said. "This just re-emphasized my belief that Olathe School District is on the cutting edge in terms of providing unique opportunities for students beyond the standard four-year high school program."

Mario Schneider Explores Options

For sophomore Mario Schneider, the AgDiscovery program presented a chance to explore many career options.

"From veterinary medicine to wildlife biology, there are a lot of careers associated with animal science," Mario said. "I am going to continue to explore careers related to animal science and agriculture. I could see myself becoming a wildlife biologist, which would allow me to preserve our wildlife for generations to enjoy. I would be able to make a difference in a way that no other career could."

Estes, the Animal Health Academy facilitator, encouraged Mario and his classmates to apply for the Iowa State program.

"After researching the program, it became evident that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mario said. "Not only would we be participating in these great activities, but the people leading them were experts in their fields. It was an honor to be selected and this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

"Mr. Estes has done an outstanding job exploring opportunities for the students to participate in," Karen Schneider, Mario's mom, said. "The Animal Health curriculum directly related to the program at Iowa State."

Abby Basile and an alpaca Abby Basile enjoyed the variety of hands-on learning experiences she had at AgDiscovery, including walking an alpaca.
Allison Burnett in the lab Laboratory work was one of the many skills Allison Burnett learned at the summer program. She hopes to become a veterinarian as an adult.
Jacey Rogers holds a goat Visiting nature centers and animal reserves was one of Jacey Rogers’ favorite parts of the two-week program in Iowa this summer.
Mario Schneider and a red-tailed hawk

Mario Schneider held a red-tailed hawk as part of his two weeks in the AgDiscovery program at Iowa State University.

Photos provided by the Department of Animal Science within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University