Pierpont Community & Technical College's Veterinary Technology program has earned a "Top 10 Large Animal Vet Tech Schools & Farm Animal Programs" from Vettechcolleges.com.
Pierpont's two-year associate degree program teaches students the knowledge and skills necessary to become Veterinary Technicians.
The United States Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics has ranked Veterinary Technicians and Technologists as one of the fastest growing employment opportunities in the US. In fact, the demand for veterinary technician professionals greatly exceeds the supply.
Program Coordinator Anna Romano credits a large animal class, part of the required curriculum, for prompting the shout-out.
"The class is pretty extensive and I actually do think it's great what we offer because we travel to different farms," says Romano. "They hit all the basic large animal species with heavier concentrations in equine and bovine. But they also do goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, and poultry."
Romano says the students enjoy these field trips to the farms.
"You know, it's a different world for some of these kids," says Romano. "They've never been around a cow or a horse, so that's kind of neat."
She remembers one student in particular who ended up pursuing a career working with large animals. Cheri Felix, who now works with WVU Farms.
"That shows you don't have to have been raised on a farm or have owned horses. She did none of that, but she really fit into that career," Romano recalled.
Others may appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to the large animal world, but don't take to it quite so well. Romano reflects on another student who was frightened by the large animals, but nevertheless did the course work and found some sense of accomplishment in facing her fears.
"We go to this farm where it's pretty old school," says Romano. "I mean, they have their cattle and you've got to totally lead them to the chute. It's just not an easy task, and all the students take turns. Everyone knows they need to do it."
She says that particular farm also offers some optional experiences, thanks to the farm's veterinarian.
One of the things Romano would like to see for the Vet Tech program is the addition of more space – in particular some sort of receiving bay.
"One of the things we do right now, we have a large portable x-ray machine and we take that out to the farms and take some x-rays," she said. "And if we had animals come in (to a receiving bay), we could do it right there in-house and do much more instead of schlepping that stuff out there to the farm.
They could just get so much more experience."