Dr. Jacob Givens, (left) a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian from Gadsden, Ala., instructs Carin Luna, a USDA animal health technician from Miami, to take blood samples from a cow at Fort Valley State University’s Veterinary Sciences Building Feb.11.
From as far north as Bellingham, Wash., and as far south as Miami, Fla, veterinary professionals gathered at Fort Valley State University Feb. 10-11 to attend training sessions conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS).
More than 25 veterinarians and veterinary technicians listened to lectures conducted by USDA veterinarians. They also participated in hands on training exercises with animals needed in the event of disease outbreaks or natural disasters at FVSU’s O’Neal Veterinary Sciences Building and the State Animal Facility for Emergencies (SAFE) Center.
“We hope that they leave here with a better understanding of how to handle the five different species that they’re working with this week. Those species are cattle, horses, goats, swine and poultry. When they are out in the field doing their jobs, they will have an increased knowledge of how to handle the animals safely and be able to get the work done,” said Dr. Marvirstine Briggs-Fisher, a USDA veterinarian from Raleigh, N.C. Briggs-Fisher, who facilitated the exercise, works for Veterinary Services, an emergency response agency that responds to diseases affecting livestock and poultry.
The USDA veterinarian said the training exercise is practice and allows the APHIS personnel to do their jobs more efficiently. “Certain VMO’s (Veterinary Medical Officers) may work more with poultry than with horses or cattle. This particular training gives them the opportunity to brush up on their skills and work with different species that they may not work with all the time,” she said.
In addition to the practice exercises, Briggs-Fisher said FVSU’s selection as a training site is based on the university’s close relationship with the USDA and the high quality of its facilities.
“The facility is top-notch. I’ve seen other facilities, but this facility is top-notch and it can offer us all the species that we need to complete the training,” Briggs-Fisher said.
Carin Luna, an animal health technician from the USDA office in Miami, said she received extensive training with several different types of animals. “The agriculture industry definitely involves a lot of the species we worked with here. It’s definitely very useful for our everyday jobs,” Luna said.
Dr. George McCommon, head of FVSU’s Department of Veterinary Sciences and Public Health, said the trainings present a great opportunity career wise and professionally for FVSU students to see organizations such as the USDA at work, thus having a very positive impact on the veterinary technology program.
For more information about training sessions conducted by the USDA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture at FVSU, contact McCommon at (478) 825-6424 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.