West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) and the Texas A&M Veterinary Education, Research & Outreach (VERO) Center received a four-year, $243,500 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Project director Dee Griffin, DVM, and co-director Dan Posey, DVM, both Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences faculty, relocated to WTAMU to establish the partnership between CVM and WTAMU.
The USDA grant funding will be used to support the development and initiation of seven veterinary-centered programs at VERO, including:
1) developing fourth-year veterinary student rural clinical training externships;
2) developing summer working internships for Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) veterinary students finishing their first or second years;
3) supporting CVM veterinary food animal student mentoring for all students interested in food animal practice;
4) supporting an annual rural veterinary practice and livestock operations tour for selected third-year CVM veterinary students;
5) aggressively recruiting qualified students with rural backgrounds;
6) recruiting outstanding rural students from 4-H and FFA programs to consider a veterinary career;
7) practicing sustainability workshops for Texas Panhandle & Plains (TPH&P) rural veterinarians, which will include training for mentoring veterinary students and improved community communication skills.
Recognizing the need to revitalize veterinary service to animal agriculture in the TPH&P region’s rural communities, the TAMU-CVM created the VERO partnership with WTAMU in Canyon, Texas, hiring two seasoned food animal veterinarians and charging them with aggressively addressing the veterinary shortage issue in rural TPH&P. These two veterinarians, working with TPH&P veterinarians, students, high school teachers, and producer groups have laid the groundwork to ensure program success.
Rural TPH&P has significant veterinary opportunities. The organization and necessary collaborative partnerships are in place at WTAMU and the VERO to achieve the unique grant funding objectives, and for several of the objectives to become self-sustaining.
Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the CVM, said that the USDA-NIFA funding of this proposal will have a tremendous impact on the ability to grow our efforts and multiply the impact through regional livestock and veterinary groups, such as the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the High Plains Veterinary Medical Association, and the Panhandle Livestock Professionals.
“The revitalization of veterinary health care in the Texas Panhandle and High Plains regions has been on the agenda of West Texas citizens for some time,” Green said. “Their concern has matched our recognition of the need to further support veterinary health care in the beef epicenter of the nation and in surrounding rural communities in a way that has the potential to be a national model.”
“The USDA-NIFA grant will make a tremendous impact on the TAMU-CVM efforts to revitalize Texas Panhandle veterinary service,” said Walter V. Wendler, president of West Texas A&M University. “Currently, TAMU-CVM is making a significant investment at West Texas A&M to better serve the veterinary needs of Texas Panhandle communities through veterinary student training, veterinary research, and veterinary outreach. The educational goals target TAMU-CVM students to provide training in livestock services and service to rural communities. We believe that if we recruit and train veterinary students in the Panhandle, we have a better chance of getting them to return to build their practices and build their lives in our rural communities.”
Griffin, who is also professor and director of the VERO, said, “With the successful funding of the USDA-NIFA grant, the TAMU-CVM, along with WTAMU, is taking another step forward in firmly establishing a CVM satellite in the Panhandle. The satellite will support training of veterinary students at every level of their education.”
“Being awarded this grant for the next four years allows us to have a positive impact to assist in the rural practice revitalization,” said Posey, who is also professor and academic coordinator at WTAMU. “We are very excited about our ability to continue to offer innovative training for veterinary students through this grant and to support a food animal mentoring program, aggressively recruit future veterinarians, and hold workshops on rural practice sustainability. This is an exciting time in the Texas Panhandle.”
Collaborators on the grant include: Brandon Dominguez, DVM; Amanda Hartnack, DVM; Glennon Mays, DVM; Tanner Robinson, Ph.D.; Juan Romano, DVM, Ph.D.; Allen Roussel, DVM; Kevin Washburn, DVM; and Kevin Williams, Ph.D.
Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; email@example.com; 979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)