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Blue Valley students experience hands-on learning at the farm

STILLWELL, Kan. — Fox4

Sometimes, a classroom grows bigger than a room inside a school.

Some might say the Blue Valley Caps program is on the ultimate “field trip,” going down on the farm,” doing dirty work while learning. Working with pigs could turn into something big for them.

Pack 15 students into a small Stillwell barn, and class is in session. Students from BVSD’s Caps Program’s Veterinary Medicine course often gather at this family farm where they’re putting swine at the center of their study.

First, students have to catch each of the 11 pigs. That often involves a harried chase around the pigpen, as pigs scurry to evade capture. Students then record the animal’s growth, while taking a little piece of what piggies leave behind. Collecting fecal samples is dirty work.

Kelly Tuel teaches this veterinary medicine course to a combined group of students from all five Blue Valley high schools.

“You have fresh poo on your brains,” Tuel smiled, while instructing students to go to work.

They’re checking each pig for any parasites, floating the samples in these tubes to look for trouble.

“The end goal is (the pigs) will also enter the food chain. So, we also want to make sure they’re not passing on parasites to the consumer,” Tuel told FOX 4 News.

Many of these students dream of a career working as veterinarians, and this program gives them a sneak peek. Pupils such as Linnea Rimmer and Reese Crawford want to attend vet schools as part of their college educations, and this semester-long course offers real-world experience.

“I put my hand in a cow’s stomach the other day at K-State. I never thought I would ever do that, but it was a cool thing,” Rimmer, a Blue Valley High School senior, said. “In a couple of weeks, we are going to pregnancy check a cow. I’m excited for that.”

“To get into vet school, you have to have a certain number of hours working with animals. We’re able to log these as experience. We can put this on our resume,” Crawford, a Blue Valley Southwest High School senior, said.

Tuel says the side benefit of this course comes in helping students choose a career path. The ones who may not enjoy the hands-on aspect of data collection sometimes realize this isn’t for them. The ones one don’t mind get an awesome leg up.

If the Blue Valley students remain in the local veterinary community, they’ll be in good company. One third of the world’s business related to animal health products belongs to businesses based in Missouri and Kansas.

experience hands-on learning