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Veterinary Students Learn About Food Supply Medicine During Production Tour

Posted June 22, 2017

FoodProductionTourIn 2008, Dr. Virginia Fajt, clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology (VTPP) in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), came up with a brilliant idea.

Collaborating with veterinary faculty Drs. Dan Posey, Jeff Musser, and Floren “Buddy” Faries, Fajt created a tour to engage second- and third-year veterinary students’ interest in food supply veterinary medicine.

Since that time, 58 students have gone through the Food Animal Production Tour in the Texas Panhandle.

The Food Animal Production Tour focuses on providing students with a working knowledge and background in animal agriculture by discussing and learning about the roles of food animal veterinarians. The tour also acquaints students with opportunities for setting up future externships and elective courses, while also improving their ability to work within food supply veterinary medicine.

The tour’s format exposes students to the role of modern food supply veterinarians’ roles in feedlots, dairies, swine operations, and rural private practice. Once the students begin the program, they visit local places such as the Full Circle Dairy, JBS Swine Operations, the Randall County Feedyards, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, the Tyson Packing House, the Dimmit Veterinary Clinic, the Hereford Veterinary Clinic, and the Carson County Veterinary Clinic to learn about large agricultural operations.

This tour is part of the students’ veterinary school curriculum and is an elective. One of the key components in this year’s Food Animal Production Tour was the CVM’s partnership with West Texas A&M University’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

An important aspect of the tour is the veterinary students’ opportunity to talk with agricultural leaders, dairy and feedyard managers, agriculture employees, food animal veterinarians in the industry, food animal veterinarians in private practice, and veterinary diagnosticians.

“I had the distinct pleasure of attending the tour and must say that it was an extremely enlightening and educational experience,” said Kameron Soules, a third-year veterinary student at Texas A&M University. “Until then, I had never seen a feed lot, dairy, processing facility, or a swine production facility firsthand, and I was exceedingly impressed with each of them.

FoodProduction2“Dr. Posey and Dr. Griffin did a fantastic job of introducing us to people in the industry, as well as to veterinarians working in the Texas Panhandle. We were an inquisitive group and our questions were always taken seriously and answered thoroughly,” Soules said. “Due to this tour, during my fourth year, I will be seeking an externship at one of the veterinary practices we visited and will be tracking either mixed or food animal.”

The six-day tour, which runs Sunday through Friday, is designed to expose students to multiple types of production units within a relatively short time; to access to prototypical well-run operations, showcasing career opportunities in the field; and to introduce food animal industries production concepts and terminology.

One of the tour’s main objectives is to take the student out of the classroom to explore experiential learning and develop a learner’s understanding of the “Learning, Experiencing, Reflection” cycle. Students learn concepts in Food Supply Veterinary Medicine in the classroom, experience it in the daily tour events, and reflect on the concepts through open discussion and journaling, according to Posey.

“The tour has changed over time and is now focused on 3VM students who are exploring the career options in food supply veterinary medicine,” Posey said. “This also exposes the 3VM student to rural practice experience and the large amount of opportunities for veterinarians in food animal careers outside of private practice.”

This year’s participants were:

  • Kameron Soules
  • Michelle Morelli
  • Libby Woodruff
  • Susannah Jones
  • Pamela May
  • Hannah Klein
  • Anne Jablinski
  • Ben Shepard
  • Mary Cartagena

“This was a career-altering experience for me and I will encourage others to attend next year. Thank you for funding this program and I hope that you continue to do so for future classes.” Soules said. “I think that this was a fantastic way to get student exposure to food animal production and West Texas opportunities! Thank you, again.”


Read more about the Food Animal Production Tour in the upcoming edition of CVM Today.

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