Animal Society student program draws praise

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fourteen people from around the country attended the Charleston Animal Society’s Veterinary Science Initiative (VSI) training conference in September. Under VSI, Charleston Animal Society pairs with local high school teachers to introduce real-life veterinary science to the classroom. PHOTO PROVIDED

On Sept. 19 and 20 Charleston Animal Society welcomed participants from the around the country at the first-ever Veterinary Science Initiative (VSI) training conference. Representing 11 organizations from seven states, 14 attendees were treated to comprehensive training sessions on the Charleston Animal Society’s groundbreaking VSI program.

Under VSI, Charleston Animal Society pairs with local high school teachers to introduce real-life veterinary science to the classroom including cruelty investigations, ethics situations, welfare legislation, disease transmission and shelter issues. Students in the program participate in a classroom visit from Charleston Animal Society and a canine companion, lessons conducted by their own teachers, consummating with a final field trip to the shelter to engage in hands-on higher level science activities.

Inspired by her passion for science, Dr. Brittany Tisa, director of continuing education initiatives at Charleston Animal Society established the VSI program in 2011. Working with De Daltorio, the society’s director of humane education programs, Dr. Tisa designed a national model for cooperative education between shelters, veterinarians and other private organizations to collaborate with local school districts.

Following their well-received presentation at the 2012 APHE National Conference at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, Calif., Tisa and Daltorio decided to accelerate their plans to host a national training conference on VSI at Charleston Animal Society. Students in California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas and Washington will be introduced to the VSI curriculum in the upcoming year. VSI attendees will become partners with Charleston Animal Society and complete the program in their area while collecting data on their students’ achievements.

“As excited as we were for the opportunity to host the VSI conference, we were even more pleased with the response we received from our guests,” says Tisa. “Everyone was engaged throughout and the enthusiasm for this curriculum was apparent.”

“We believe the program will spread throughout the country in upcoming years,” Tisa continues. “When we first began designing the curriculum, it was with the intention of connecting more students with science, by making it more exciting and interactive.”

“With VSI it’s amazing to see the high school students get fully immersed in science through interaction with animals,” Daltorio adds. “Having the opportunity to share this program with humane educators across the country was fantastic. We are excited to see the results of VSI in different states.”

For information on the Veterinary Science Initiative program, please visit: http://www.vsiprogram.com.

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