A student’s Michigan State University experience

By Cassandra Arrington, Grand Ledge High School Junior

I am a student at Grand Ledge High School, but through Eaton RESA, I get to attend a class at Potter Park Zoo. The class is called Animal Science and Zoo Management. I take the class with a bunch of juniors and seniors who attend high schools all through Eaton County.

The class is great for me because I want to be a Veterinary Specialist when I get older. I have also made some really great friends because of our common interest – animals.

Some of the many topics we have the privilege of learning are anatomy and physiology and veterinary medicine. While learning these topics, as a class, we got to go on a three-day field trip to Michigan State University. We visited the Poultry Teaching and Research Facility, McPhail Center, and Veterinary Medical Center.

Tuesday we went to the Poultry Teaching and Research Facility. We learned about two different ways to keep chickens. They are cage-free and enriched cages. I enjoyed seeing how it all works, and how they feed and water all seven thousand of their chickens. We had the opportunity to dress up in Tyvek suits, with foot booties, so we did not contaminate the chicken area.

Wednesday my class and I traveled to the McPhail Center to hear Dr. Ferguson speak to us about her job. She also gets to conduct research with a variety of animals. We learned how to restrain some of these animals. My favorite part was trying to see the differences between a healthy and a non-healthy rat. It was opposite of what I thought!

On our very last day, Thursday, we went to the Veterinary Medical Center to learn how to do a suture and tie a square knot. We were taught these skills by first year veterinary medicine students. We then used foam to practice suturing. I learned all of the surgical equipment, like needle drivers, needles, sutures, thumb forceps, and surgical scissors. In the next rotation, a student taught us to tie a square knot. I had to learn to do it without letting go of the sutures, because if you drop it, you wouldn’t be able to find it again if you were performing surgery. It was confusing at first, but I quickly got the hang of it.

These field trips and this class have furthered my knowledge to help me see myself as a veterinarian. I have learned a variety of skills that I would need. I got the experience of what some veterinary students do in their own classrooms. I highly recommend it to all of these to students who would like to do an animal related career. Thank you to Mrs. Morningstar, Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and all who made these experiences possible.