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Veterinary Students Seek Summer Adventures at Home and Abroad

From capturing rhinos on the African veld to capturing an industry in a moment of rapid change, Illinois veterinary students spent last summer in varied and exciting ways.

Kjersten Holm managed to fit a marathon in Alaska into her fourth-year rotation schedule. On June 19 she walked 26.2 miles near Anchorage for the Leukemia Society of America to raise awareness and funds. She walked in honor of a 7-year-old boy in Bloomington, Illinois, and raised nearly $4,000.

[Chris and Liz, Rhino Hunters]Elizabeth Robertson-Prado and Chris Welch learned about conservation, wildlife translocation and management, wildlife diseases and pathology, and more from two wildlife veterinarians at the Parados Game Ranch in South Africa. The two-week course involved lectures as well as captures of rhino, sable, and hippos and visits to various wildlife habitats. 

At right, Chris Welch holds an IV bag as Elizabeth Robertson-Prado assists the veterinarian teaching the course in locating a rhino's vein.

“This course broadened and revitalized my interest in wildlife medicine and conservation as a viable career option,” says Robertson-Prado. She notes that classes such as this one also have value in preparing for an international career.

Agnes Van Volkenburgh also crossed an ocean this summer. She organized workshops at Poland’s veterinary colleges and visited animal shelters in her native Poland in an effort to promote spaying and neutering of companion animals. Pet sterilization is uncommon in Poland because of social taboos against it, but pet overpopulation is rampant. Van Volkenburgh arranged to bring Dr. Lisa Howe, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine; Terry Paik, Veterinarians for World Animal Health; and David Dawson, president of Student American Veterinary Medical Association to Warsaw, Lublin, and Olsztyn to speak and to demonstrate the procedures. She received funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Frontiers for Veterinary Medicine, Hills, and Ralston Purina.

[Sarah 'roughing' it]Sarah Probst, above, and her sister ate a lot of mac and cheese as they camped out during their interviewing odyssey. 

Like Van Volkenburgh, Sarah Probst designed a project with broad implications but an origin close to her heart. Raised on a pig farm, Probst wanted to explore the role of veterinarians within the family farm in today’s volatile agricultural market. She and her sister Emily, a journalism student, spent two months traveling through the Midwest and conducting nearly 100 interviews with veterinarians and their clients. The results of their efforts have direct implications for the production medicine training given at the College. 

“So much is changing right now in agriculture, and food animal veterinarians are having to reassess their role,” says Probst. “The chant we heard over and over again was ‘Understand business and marketing.’ ” An elective course on agri-business in development for the spring semester and business-related programming in the Production Medicine Club are two ways Probst’s findings are being acted on now.

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