PEER Fellows Spread STEM Inspiration Throughout San Antonio, Brazos Valley
Posted July 24, 2017
PEER summer veterinary student fellows Lynanne Graf and Jessica
Haynes shared their passion for STEM with youth groups of all ages,
minority statuses, and would-be first-generation college students,
while honing their own communication skills and furthering their
educational experiences in veterinary medicine, during a recent
trip to San Antonio.
Jessica Haynes presents to TAMU San Antonio to high
At the San Antonio Humane Society, the PEER fellows talked to 33
children ages 9-11 at Camp Humane, which offers a unique learning
experience about the humane treatment and care of domestic and wild
There, PEER fellows presented “Animal Heroes,” highlighting the
many specific jobs animals can have and instructing students on
reading the body language of dogs and cats and how to respond
appropriately. At the end of the presentation, activity packets on
safe behaviors toward animals and various animal-care terminology
were given to the campers.
“The campers continued to ask questions about veterinarians and
vet school after the presentation,” Graf said. “They were excited
and motivated to pursue a career with animals and asked advice on
how to accomplish their goals.”
During the TAMU San Antonio PREP course, PEER fellows exposed 88
middle and high school students to traditional veterinary medicine,
as well as all of the opportunities a veterinary school education
offers, from animal training to working in a research lab. The PREP
course is designed to help better prepare and motivate youth who
would be first-generation college students for success in advanced
“Several students said that this was their favorite presentation
compared to others they had received in the last four weeks of the
PREP course,” Haynes said. “Very positive feedback was received
when student stayed late to discuss information in their ‘College
Knowledge’ and ‘Science and You’ PEER pamphlets.”
The PEER fellows were delighted to have made an impact and,
hopefully, convinced and encouraged the students to continue being
interested in STEM careers, including veterinary medicine.
While visiting San Antonio, Graf and Haynes got some enrichment
on their own, receiving a behind-the-scenes tour of Sea World and
the San Antonio Zoo, where they were treated “very hospitably” and
had their eyes opened during their first exposure to marine and zoo
medicine, including seeing dolphins, sea lions, snakes, and hooded
During a necropsy of a Habu, a venomous pit viper endemic to
Japan, the PEER fellows received an educational presentation on
snake anatomy and discospondylitis.
Graf and Haynes also dived into the research side of veterinary
medicine by visiting the Southwest National Primate Research
Center, located at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
Blake Harrington, one of the baboon caretakers, showed off the
facilities and talked about some of the behavior and biological
research that is done, the breeding of certain species, and primate
diseases that cause concern. The students learned about Herpes B
virus during this visit and the actions in place to prevent its
spread to humans.
“Seeing how the use animals as a sentinel species for human
medicine was enlightening,” Graf said.
Finally, PEER visited several veterinary clinics in the area and
talked about PEER’s resources online, hoping to motivate staffs to
utilize the many PEER educational resources available.
“The veterinarians and their staff were delighted to discover
the helpful resources and took the time out of their busy day to
learn about PEER,” Haynes said.
Other presentations recently given by the PEER fellows include
at Bryan’s Kemp-Carver Elementary School, where Haynes, Graf, and
graduate student Anna Blick discussed the sea turtle anatomy and
life cycle with 16 fourth and fifth grade girls attending a
Girlstart Camp; as part of the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural
History’s “Wild About Nature Week,” during which the three shared
their knowledge during two days of educational activities on
“Caring about Wildlife”—showing 28 students ages 4 to 12 how to
identify orphaned wildlife vs. healthy wildlife that should be left
alone—and “Blending with Nature”—examining how camouflaging plays a
major role in our ecosystem; and with campers at Summer Science
Safari, during which the PEER fellows detailed veterinary medicine
and how veterinarians use the scientific method in every day
Those interested in working for PEER or learning more about
PEER’s educational resources can visit peer.tamu.edu or email Dr. Larry
Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynanne Graf and Jessica Haynes contributed to this
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