Science inspires kids at vet camp

The young people recently got a glimpse of the veterinary profession at the veterinary camp.

About 20 students, aged 6 to 14, recently attended the Faulkner County Extension Office camp in Conway, where they discovered careers in veterinary medicine and tried hands-on activities related to animal care.

Dr Paul Jenkins, a vet from Vilonia, taught the youngsters some basics of wound care, including how to suture a wound and give injections. Participants also assembled animal first aid kits with items provided by the Arkansas 4-H Foundation and learned how to best use these supplies, which included gauze, duct tape, cotton swabs, gloves , tweezers, antibiotic ointment, soap, alcohol wipes, saline solution and hydrogen peroxide.

Arkansas 4-H hosted the camp in the run up to National STEM / STEAM Day on November 8. The organization also offers year-round STEM opportunities for young people to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math through fun and hands-on activities and projects.

“We are planning programs for young people to have a wide range of experiences in the hope that they will find inspiration and passion for the knowledge they will retain in their studies and perhaps in their careers,” said Faulkner County 4-H agent Kami Green said. “We had a lot of interest in our vet camp.”

Animal science, especially veterinary medicine, is important to the agriculture industry in Arkansas.

Many primary-age participants attended the camp because they enjoy taking care of the animals they raise or have as pets and wanted to learn more.

Older participants, like Natalie Hoffman, 14, from Damascus, are already considering a career in animal science.

“I always wanted to be a vet,” said Hoffman, who helps care for his family’s livestock, chickens, cats and dogs. “I think I have known this since I was 2 years old.”

Haven Register, 9, of Conway, said she was taking care of her pet rabbit Nibbles and considering a career as a vet. She enjoys science and studied the immune system as part of her home studies in fourth grade.

On October 30, she had the chance to learn the basics of suturing. Using forceps and tweezers, she carefully tied the knots as Jenkins had requested.

Jenkins, who has two children in 4-H, volunteers his time at 4-H clubs and schools in the area.

He explained what it takes to be a vet or vet tech and urged young people to develop good academic habits if they want to be vets.

“Going to veterinary school is very competitive,” he told them. “You have to learn to study hard now, then you will be ready.”

There are 28 accredited veterinary schools in the United States and women make up 80% of the student body, Jenkins said.

Girls also made up most of the 4-H veterinary camp attendees.

To learn more about 4-H programs in your county, visit https://4h.uada.edu or contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow the agency on Twitter at @AR_Extension.

Tracy Courage is with the Agriculture System Division at the University of Ontario.

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