May 26, 2009— A Fort Valley State University student is getting an opportunity that aspiring veterinarians dream of: providing health care to exotic animals at one of the nation’s premiere zoos. Veterinary Technology major Erica Eason is spending summer vacation completing a ten-week externship at Zoo Atlanta. The student spends the day shadowing the zoo’s veterinarians: learning husbandry (breeding animals), evaluating blood work and fecal exams, mobilizing zoo animals and administering vaccinations onmuntjac deer. Eason is the first FVSU veterinary science student to work at the zoo.
“She’s been doing really well here,” said Zoo Atlanta’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Haley Murphy, Eason’s supervisor.
The partnership between FVSU’s veterinary science department and Zoo Atlanta began with a Memorandum of Understanding signed December 2007. To qualify, students need at least 35 credit hours in the major area, a 3.0 grade point average, submit an essay and complete an interview.
Eason, a Presidential Scholar and Student Government Association senator, is also a Veterinary Science Club vice president and teacher’s aid. Dr. Seyedmehdi Mobini, FVSU’sinterim head of the Department of Veterinary Science, said her scholastic achievements and community service stood out among other applicants.
Mobini credits Dr. Isaac J. Crumbly, vice president of career and collaborative programs, as integral to creating the partnership.
“I’m delighted that after two and a half years, that the initiative has come to fruition,” said Crumbly.
The student externship is the first phase of the university’s relationship with Zoo Atlanta. Phase two will start this fall when FVSU’s veterinary science faculty visiting Zoo Atlanta to provide health care to exotic species. The instructors will also teach zoo veterinarians how to care for domestic animals. Phase three will involve the establishment of management farms on FVSU’s campus for zoo animals – like giraffes, antelopes, zebras and rhinoceroses.
“One of the things I see with the management farms of exotic animals is that it would truly make FVSU’s veterinary tech program unique among others in the USA,” said Crumbly. “Most vet tech programs deal primarily with domestic animals. It will double or triple the enrollment, FVSU’s veterinary science program would become nationally-recognized, and it would be a precursor for turning the department into a regular veterinary medicine program.”
For more information contact, Mobini at (478) 825-6795.
Christina D. Milton, editorial assistant
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