For Veterinary Technology students at the Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud, volunteering at the Hemker Zoo in Freeport to help prepare for its spring opening was an eye-opening experience.
Like, for instance, how much manual labor it takes to maintain a zoo and how much feed it takes to keep animals healthy.
“The students knew that they may be getting dirty and doing some fence work,” said SCNAVTA advisor Jessica Ostendorf, “but I don’t think they realized how much work they would be doing until we got there. They maintained professionalism throughout the day, and it all came together for them at the end when they got to spend more time interacting with the animals and having a Q & A session with Heidi [Ramler, director of the zoo.]”
Students worked on tilling and gardening as well as taking down an old fence around the waterfowl and putting up a new one. Their reward was the face-to-face animal time afterward.
Students “learned the specifics about each of the animals,” according to Ostendorf, “including zebras, monkeys and the singing dogs . . . .” By far the favorite, however, were the penguins.
“I was very surprised,” said Devyn Anderson, “as well as others, by how soft penguins are.” She added her biggest challenge was “being distracted by all of the amazing animals around me and wanting to check all of them out instead of repairing fences!”
Ostendorf sees this experience as an important connection to the students and their future careers. “They got to see another potential area they could specialize in after school, as well as [to] network with someone in the animal community. They also got to practice their professionalism skills, and they now have another volunteer opportunity that they can put on their resume when searching for jobs after graduation.”
Anderson agreed that it was a great experience and said she would definitely volunteer again.
The Hemker Zoo, outside Freeport, Minnesota, is home to over 50 species of animals. It was recently featured in a report by Jason Davis on KSTP television. http://kstp.com/article/stories/S2601025.shtml?cat=0?video=YHI&t=a
The Student Chapter of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (SCNAVTA) is a national organization that encompasses veterinary technicians, their careers and credentialing requirements. According to its website, “Responsibilities for the chapters include planning activities that promote veterinary technology, giving back to the community through volunteer efforts, holding an elected office, following a constitution and setting a budget. Involvement in these activities while in school fosters the development of leaders within the profession.” The MSB-St. Cloud SCNAVTA chapter has 20 active members.