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PEER Fellows Bring Veterinary Science to West Texas Youth

Posted August 24, 2017

The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) PEER veterinary student fellows recently provided STEM instruction on animal health and welfare to youth in the Midland/Odessa area.


Lynanne Graf presents to youth at Midland's Boys & Girls Club.

More than 120 elementary and middle school-aged students learned about the science of veterinary medicine, while the PEER fellows enhanced their own adaptability and soft skills necessary to work in the field, during a Midland YMCA camp.

Fellows spoke to seven different groups of campers about what veterinarians do and how to become a veterinarian through the presentation “So You want to be a Vet?”, during which the youth role-played as a veterinarian while applying principles of the scientific method to practice cases.

In their role as a veterinarian, YMCA campers had to determine appropriate diagnostics and treatment for a variety of patients based on their signalment and history.

“This is always what captures the student’s interest,” said PEER fellow Lynanne Graf. “It forces them to become involved and use their critical thinking skills.”

The campers also got moving with a fun game of animal freeze tag, which required them to answer reinforcement questions from the presentation, and left with fun posters and resource pamphlets to assist them as they further explore veterinary medicine and science.

“We left the event encouraged by the children’s positive feedback and many heroic stories of their local veterinarians,” said PEER fellow Jessica Haynes.

During their stay in Midland, PEER fellows also worked with 20 elementary-aged boys and girls at the Boy & Girls Club at Taylor Park, where the children learned about the important role veterinarians play in the lives of animals. Veterinary fellows also were able to get a better perspective on how the community viewed animals and their understanding of the human-animal bond.


Jessica Haynes speaks to campers at Midland's YMCA.

“This understanding helps us as veterinarians better relate to and adapt our approach to best interact with the community,” Haynes said.

For professional fulfillment, the PEER fellows visited six veterinary hospitals, where they discussed the benefit of PEER resources to veterinarians, staff, and clients, while also making professional connections and building relationships with the veterinary community of West Texas, which may benefit fellows throughout their careers.

The successful summer full of educational experiences for all, now coming to an end, were sponsored by the Emma Barnsley Foundation of Midland/Odessa, which funded PEER veterinary fellow training this summer.

Other summer activities have included outreach and education, including for fellows, themselves, to youth camps, children’s museums, schools, the Primate Center, rural Texas, veterinary clinics, Sea World, the San Antonio Zoo, and more, working with young people in Girls Scouts, GirlStart, South Texas Medical Academy, TAMU, and Houston PREP students, science and engineering students, and at risk-youth to pursue careers in veterinary science and STEM.

“This summer has given me a new perspective on the different roles veterinarians play within the community and how I can best prepare to fill all of those roles,” Graf said. “We feel more confident than ever in our ability to interact with the community and understand their specific vision of what a veterinarian should be.”

“We also feel motivated to pursue specialties after working with many specialty veterinarians throughout the summer,” Haynes added. “They enlightened us on how worthwhile it is to be able to do only what you really love to do every day.

“Providing outreach and connecting with the veterinary community through the PEER Summer Fellowship was a very rewarding experience.”

Those interested in joining the PEER team should contact Dr. Larry Johnson or visit

Lynanne Graf & Jessica Haynes contributed to this article.

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