Veterinary Science Camp: Part 1

Tollgate’s pilot Vet Science Camp has gotten off to a strong start with lots of experiential learning and, of course, time caring for our animals! Campers have been out and about on the farm experiencing and exploring all about the field of veterinary medicine. 

Monday was hot and humid, but that didn’t stop us from spending time with our Tollgate Livestock Instructor Rachael Moran who explored with us the digestive system of the horse as compared to that of our ruminant goats and sheep. Campers learned all about the proper care of horses and had a chance to groom Sedona and Tulsa, including brushing their coat and picking their hooves. Farrier Koren joined us for a close up look at her work as she filed Friday’s hooves. Extension Livestock Educator Nick Babcock joined us from campus to give us an overview of biosecurity, veterinary terminology, and safety working around animals. We explored the flight zone and much, much more as we learned how to make sure we and our animals are safe. Nick’s intern Nicole helped campers become Zoonotic Detectives with a hands-on lab and campers were put to the test with interactive quizzes on much of what they learned. The heat was intense, but our hardy campers made it through the day with gusto, stopping to make and enjoy an ice cold fruit smoothie for garden kitchen. 

Tuesday began with an interactive exploration of the ruminant digestive system and a model of the four compartments – the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Campers placed their hands in buckets simulating each of the compartments and worked to determine which compartment their bucket represented. For garden kitchen, campers prepared and enjoyed a snack of veggies and hummus. Campers milked our Toggenburg dairy doe with ease as we learned all about goats from long time 4-Her Susanna Khanuk. We had the privilege of having Dr. Hillary Lobar and her vet assistant Rebecca share her vast knowledge and skill in veterinary medicine. Campers learned that ‘vitals are vital’ and that TPR (temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate) are key to monitoring an animal’s health and they had the opportunity to take vitals on our Tollgate horse Griz. Campers were right in the action while Sam Stokes, Rachael Moran, and Rebecca helped Dr. Lobar sedate pony Friday and assess her teeth, using a large tool to grind down her back molars. Dr. Lobar and Rebecca joined us for Lunch with a Vet as they shared all about their individual paths to working with animals and answered lots of camper questions. After lunch, campers explore the organization Youth for the Quality of Care of Animals with Nick and then learned all about an important part of vet care – taking fecal samples and studying them under the microscope to look for parasites, in this case the barber pole worm. Using a FAMACHA card, campers learned to assess parasite pressure on sheep and goats by comparing the color of the animal’s inner eyelid with a scale.

Wednesday we are off on an adventure as we travel by bus to campus to visit the dairy, horse, and cattle barns or a look at veterinary medicine and research at the premier vet school in our state and country – Michigan State University! Stay tuned for more vet science adventures to come.

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