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Youth Become Veterinarians in Training at New Summer Camp

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many kids dream of becoming veterinarians and helping animals. This June, a few lucky middle and high school students will see what it’s really like to be a vet.

During weeklong 4-H Veterinary Science day camp, youth will shadow veterinarians as they care for patients big and small. Participants will also practice basic medical skills, such as reading medication labels, listening to a heartbeat with a stethoscope and performing sutures (on a banana).

The camp is set for June 18 to 22. Most activities will be held in Seminole County, though the week will culminate at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where participants will learn what it takes to pursue a career in the field.

A main goal of the program is to expose kids to career opportunities in veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences and STEM — science, technology, engineering and math, said Chelsea Woodard, 4-H agent in Seminole County with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

This is the first time the camp has been offered, but potential campers are already competing to get a spot, Woodard said. “We had such interest in this camp that we are currently taking applications. As we get close to the limit, we will hold interviews to select participants,” she said.

The final group of 15 to 18 campers will spend each day focusing on a specific area of veterinary medicine:

  • Domesticated animals
  • Livestock
  • Exotic animals
  • Horses
  • Veterinary education

Participants will visit animal hospitals, laboratories, ranches, feed stores, the Central Florida Zoo, and university halls and classrooms, where they’ll gain firsthand experience with veterinary experts and animals.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to educating students of all ages and interests about veterinary medicine, One Health and career opportunities for veterinarians,” said Dr. Amanda House, clinical associate professor and director of student affairs for the college.

“One of the reasons that so many faculty, including myself, enjoy teaching is the opportunity to work with enthusiastic youth who are passionate about animals and medicine. This veterinary camp can also spark or enhance a career interest that may have been previously unrealized,” House said.

The UF College of Veterinary Medicine also hosts a discovery workshop with 4-H University, House said. 4-H University is a weeklong college experience for 4-H members from across the state held in Gainesville each summer.

To learn more about Florida 4-H and how to get involved, go to Florida4H.org.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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