PEER Veterinary Students Make a Splash with STEM Education
Posted July 20, 2016
The CVM PEER program is committed to enhancing STEM education
for K-12 students while empowering veterinary students to share
their knowledge and expand the boundaries of their education. PEER
veterinary students have presented to over 1800 students this
summer, teaching over 20 different topics in STEM and veterinary
medicine fields. In addition to traveling across Texas presenting
at schools, camps, museums, and libraries, PEER veterinary students
enhance their own education through shadowing veterinarians,
visiting veterinary practices, and touring animal facilities such
as SeaWorld San Antonio and the Southwest National Primate Research
As part of the Animal Day hosted by the Larry J. Ringer Library
in College Station, PEER veterinary students organized an
educational room that attracted over 700 community members who came
to learn about pet care. PEER provided stations where visitors
explored pet nutrition, common parasites, dental health including a
live cat tooth brushing demonstration, and a coloring station that
emphasized how to interact with animals and the importance of
regular veterinary care. PEER stations included English and Spanish
brochures that families took to use as reference materials.
PEER’s educational room was well-received by the community.
Maddie Wiersig (3VM), who managed the coloring station, said the
event was a “roaring success!” Clarissa Root (3VM), who managed the
parasite station, commented, “Many people, including adults, before
they visited PEER’s stations did not know that mosquitoes can
transmit heartworms. These families are now better equipped to
protect their pets’ health. I enjoyed being able to provide pet
care education in English and Spanish to our community.” Cindy
Oser, the Youth Services Librarian who organized Animal Day, was
impressed by PEER’s contributions. Oser wrote, “Your students did
an amazing job of teaching kids at our Animal Day event. We had 744
attendees which was a record for a Tuesday program at our library.
The kids and teens really loved working with your students...You
guys are awesome!”
PEER impacts many students beyond the Brazos County. PEER
veterinary students recently spent three days in San Antonio
presenting at TAMU San Antonio, the San Antonio Humane Society, and
Mission Public Library. TAMU San Antonio was a great success as
many of the students were enrolled in pre-engineering programs
through their schools, so they had great interest in STEM careers
and professional school in general. Presenters Aurash Behroozi
(3VM) and Maddie Wiersig (3VM) spoke on how to get into veterinary
school, their inspiration for wanting to become veterinarians, and
tips for college success regardless of career path. Pam Massey, the
director of the event, called the presentation “Wonderful!
Informative and entertaining!"
Massey also applauded Wiersig for encouraging students not to
allow gender norms to stand in the way of their careers. Wiersig
highlighted how people told her growing up that she could not be a
good large animal veterinarian because she was a small female and
not a big, strong male. "I think it was so wonderful for all the
girls to hear that gender should not play a role in what they
should be when they grow up, no matter what people tell them!"
Massey exclaimed. The pre-engineering students peppered Behroozi
and Wiersig with challenging, in depth questions about inspiring
role models, adversities encountered on the pathway to veterinary
school, and personal experiences that the PEER speakers believed
led to their veterinary school admission.
The PEER veterinary students concluded their San Antonio journey
with a trip to Sea World, but this was not an average, everyday
visit to the popular theme park. PEER veterinary students seized
the opportunity to go behind the metaphorical aqua colored curtain
and view a part of Sea World not visible to regular park-goers. The
PEER students met with Dr. Steve Osborn, one of the three resident
veterinarians providing care to the mélange of creatures residing
in the land-locked oasis. Dr. Osborn spoke of his unconventional
beginnings as a Purdue Boilermaker who started practicing in a
small animal hospital. He spoke of the good fortune and healthy
amount of elbow grease that landed him the ever-coveted position as
a Sea World veterinarian.
Dr. Osborn offered the PEER students a chance to get their hands
wet and onto some of the eternally smiling bottle nose dolphins.
Each of the four students took turns approaching the pool to place
their hands upon the muscular back of a beautiful female bottle
nose dolphin. Osborn explained to the students that dolphins have
blood drawn at the tail vein and pointed out this important
structure gliding down the underside of the dolphin's rear fin.
Osborn then led the students away from the crystal blue, cool
waters of the dolphin pool and into an air conditioned laboratory
filled with cutting edge equipment intended for reading various
samples collected from Sea World's animals. The PEER veterinary
students also toured the cavernous surgery suite intended for
everything from walruses and seals to penguins and flamingos.
SeaWorld San Antonio offered a unique opportunity to supplement
PEER veterinary students’ knowledge of marine animal medicine. The
standard veterinary curriculum is fairly threadbare regarding sea
animals. Dr. Osborn discussed the many challenges of marine animal
disease control and marine animal transport in captivity. It became
quickly evident to the PEER veterinary students that the Sea World
veterinarians must really adapt and learn on the job! There is a
dearth of research literature currently published on the animal
species that are housed in Sea World, but SeaWorld veterinarians
are working hard to advance our knowledge of these fascinating
To learn more about exciting opportunities through PEER, please
visit PEER's website or email
Dr. Larry Johnson.
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