Students matriculating in Fort Valley State University’s Department of Veterinary Sciences will soon see learning opportunities in Africa.
Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, along with Dr. George McCommon, head of FVSU’s Department of Veterinary Sciences and Public Health and Dr. Thomas Terrill, researcher and associate professor of animal sciences, recently traveled to Botswana and South Africa to establish a study abroad program for veterinary sciences students.
Kannan, McCommon and Terrill met with administrators at Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN). During their stay, they toured the campus, discussed opportunities for a study abroad program and discussed opportunities to collaborate on research and outreach initiatives.
“Study abroad opportunities such as these will broaden FVSU students’ perspectives about exotic animal diseases, instructional methods, other cultures and campus living conditions in other countries. These exposures will better prepare our students for today’s global economy and workforce,” Kannan said.
In addition, Kannan expressed some possibility of research and outreach collaborations between BUAN and FVSU scientists and extension specialists. For example, FVSU researchers and extension agents could collaborate and develop trainings on the use of bioactive plants for control of internal parasites in livestock.
Moreover, there was also discussion about FVSU students working with BUAN graduate students on their projects. For example, FVSU students along with BUAN graduate students could be exposed to cases at the animal care clinic on their campus. As the host institution, BUAN would provide housing in their graduate dormitories and meals in their cafeteria for visiting students.
“This is an opportunity for two high achieving veterinary science students to be able to experience an educational and cultural experience,” said Dr. George McCommon. “We would like to expand it greatly down the road. We see the first one to two years being exploratory, finding out what works for all parties involved,” McCommon said.
Furthermore, McCommon is working on opportunities for students to have a detailed, well-rounded, global experience. Some of these opportunities include exposing students to large and small animal care by shadowing a private veterinarian at a South African wildlife park. He is also securing opportunities for students to work at the University of Pretoria (UP) for one week, which offers multiple veterinary training facilities. These educational sites in Botswana and South Africa will provide FVSU students opportunities to work alongside diverse populations.
“We live in a global economy. Opportunities like this will expose our students to different animals; teach them how to treat different types of diseases and learn what is important to different cultures. Each experience makes them more marketable and employable for jobs,” McCommon said.
McCommon said this USDA sponsored opportunity is in its preliminary stage with limited funding. Currently the plan is to send students to BUAN in Gaborone, Botswana in summer 2017 for three weeks. Students will also visit a veterinary clinic near the wildlife game park for one week and visit UP for one week. A panel will select two students and two alternates and submit the student’s names to the department head.