Veterinary technology students might imagine themselves working in a small vet clinic or perhaps at the local emergency animal clinic. After a field trip to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, however, career paths could take a new direction for a few Globe University-Green Bay students in the vet tech degree program.
Instructor Debbie Bierhals and a group of interested veterinary technology students traveled down to Madison for a day to learn more about exotic animals and get behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo’s labs and animal health care facilities.
Why is it important for a vet tech student to have an experience like this? “It was important because those who are interested in exotic animals got to see the zoo’s husbandry and the type of care required,” Bierhals explained.
Students began their trip by touring the animal health care facility, and surprisingly, it was very similar to a regular vet clinic. One of the interactive parts of the day included picking up a telephone to talk to a specialty vet (pre-recorded), and then students had to look at real X-rays to help determine what was going on with the patient. This was an opportunity for vet tech students to learn some of the issues with exotic animals that they don’t get to see every day within in their program.
Teri Busch, vet tech student, valued her experience on the field trip.
“It was really cool, actually; the diagnostic lab was probably the best part,” she said. “We got to see everyone working and see some cool stuff. We got to see some pictures of necropsies of animals from the zoo.”
Learning in the Lab
Students got to experience and learn about the animal care lab first-hand. Wearing their personal protective equipment, they toured the lab and learned about properly packaging and processing samples. Bierhals believes this knowledge is critical so that when these students are on the job, they understand the importance of efficient and accurate lab processes.
Fun Facts & Sights
Students had to learn one fun fact about each animal they encountered. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Saw different species of skulls and anatomy by viewing skeletons, including a minke whale, beaver, full turtle in the shell, and a bird
- Saw a life-like replica of the world’s largest anaconda at 27 feet long with a girth of 44 inches
- Learned that if camels’ humps do not get enough water, the humps will fall to the side
The Importance of Field Trips
Students in the vet tech program at Globe University have many opportunities in and outside the classroom to learn about all the different areas in the animal care industry.
Student Teri Busch said of this particular field trip, “It was a good experience to get behind the scenes and get to see things you wouldn’t normally see.”
Through exposure to different opportunities, students learn more and figure out where to focus their career interests.