Expect VERO center to open in August of 2020

Savannah Wesley, Features Editor

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WTAMU student population expected to continue to increase with the addition of new Veterinary Education Research and Outreach center (VERO) in 2020 attracting current and future pre-vet majors.

“Over the last several years, since this partnership, the pre-vet students coming in as freshmen…exceeded other majors and so that is where a lot of that growth is coming from,” said Dr. Lance Kieth, Department Head for the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

The partnership started back in July 2016 when leaders of the veterinary education program Dr. Dee Griffin, Director of VERO, and Dr. Dan Posey, academic coordinator and clinical professor, started bringing in veterinary students from College Station, TX to WTAMU every summer. These students spend half their summer at a professional unit, such as a dairy or a feedlot, and the other half at mixed practices in the panhandle. Both Griffin and Posey worked as practicing veterinarians before coming to work as educators at WTAMU and are excited for the new building and the growth of the program.

“A veterinarian needs to know how a dairy works, how a feedlot works and that’s what this program does is actually get them ready for whenever they’re a veterinarian, actually having the knowledge of how ag industry works,” said Posey.

An important part of the VERO program is to get students from the panhandle and the surrounding areas, have them recruited and get them enrolled into WTAMU or the college of their choice. Then those students will be mentored through the process of getting their degree and get accepted into veterinary school. The goal is to have those students then return back to the panhandle as large animal practitioners, rural practitioners, or industry practitioners.

“We have the connection to the industry,” said Kieth. “There is no barrier between us and the industry so that the real-world lab is at our backdoor and they get immersed in it.”

Dr. Paul Morely will be joining VERO faculty as the director of research at the beginning of February. With him, there will be the addition of 4 more scientists working to support and guide the efforts of 10 to 20 graduate students, post-docs, veterinary interns and veterinary residents. The research activities offered by the program will provide multiple opportunities for those who move on to graduate training.

“It’s a place you can make the contribution to support God’s world and if that fits your mission in life, it’s wonderful,” said Griffin. “I’ve been a vet for 46 years and I have never regretted it, not one. So, it’s been a wonderful life.”

Canyon and the panhandle is at the epicenter of the United States livestock industry. With the need for large animal veterinarians on the rise, WTAMU will help grow and cultivate future agricultural professionals who will give back to the surrounding areas. This is all a part of the TAMU system’s “Serving Every Texan Every Day” initiative practiced by all A&M institutions since 2009. The VERO center will officially open in August of 2020.

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