Incoming students participate in First-Year Leadership Experience

FLE 2014

Members of the Class of 2018 participate in Raccoon Circle, an ice-breaker activity at the First-Year Leadership Experience at Camp McConnell. Students moved the rope in a circle and whoever touched the knot at the end would be invited to share a personal anecdote about their feelings related to entering veterinary school. (Photo courtesy of the Office for Students and Instruction)

A revamped first-year leadership experience program recently provided incoming University of Florida veterinary students with a variety of creative activities aimed at fostering awareness of their individual talents and strengths.

In addition, students were introduced to the concept of becoming both a professional and a member of the Gator Nation. An emphasis on the availability of University resources, a sense of collegiality, support and respect for one another and for faculty were integral features of the program.

Held Aug. 18-19 at the YMCA’s Camp McConnell in Micanopy, the multifaceted program used established, nationally recognized faculty, resources and UF facilitators to help students identify their strengths as individuals and as part of a team.

Prior to the event, all participating faculty and students completed a Strengths Finders Assessment Survey established by Gallup. Completion of the survey provided each participant with a strengths insight and tailored action planning guide that increases awareness of how each individual’s strengths makes him or her stand out from others, and suggests how to capitalize on those individual strengths when communicating and working with others.

Jaime Gresley, strengths coach and director of new student and family programs at UF, led a lively workshop to help students learn about applying their individual strengths to what they do on a daily basis. Working in both large and small groups, the students also were able to express and discuss expectations that they have of themselves and others, and were introduced to numerous support programs available to them on campus.

College administrators hope the program will enhance the overall culture of communication, not just among students but between students and faculty members. The plan is to incorporate more of the strengths quest program into future activities.

“We want our students to realize that developing a team dynamic will lead them to greater success,” said Dr. Pam Ginn, the college’s associate dean for students and instruction.

Additionally, with students’ use of technology and their social interactions largely being online these days, students are less and less equipped to deal with interpersonal conflict, Ginn said. In order to provide students with insight and resources for interprofessional communication and resolving differences, Chris Loschiavo, UF’s director of student conduct and conflict resolution, was invited to lead the discussion about expectations.

“It is necessary to find ways to teach students how to resolve conflict in healthy and peaceful ways. We need to teach students how to communicate with each other,” Ginn said. “While the activities provided through the first-year leadership experience were given to empower students to critically evaluate dilemmas they may face in a professional educational setting, we really wanted the experience to be both fun and meaningful on a number of levels.”

The event also included lighthearted activities inspired by the viral online video, “Take a Seat, Make a Friend. “ In pits filled with multicolored plastic balls, small groups of students shared responses to ice-breaker questions such as, “Who do you admire most?” and “What is your spirit animal?” Students were given additional opportunities for sharing in Raccoon Circle, an activity during which students gathered in a circle and passed a rope, with the person who wound up touching the knot at the end being invited to share an anecdote about their feelings related to entering veterinary school.

The students also had free time to swim at the Camp McConnell pool, and to challenge themselves in a high ropes course at the camp. The high ropes course included a zip line, rock wall and cargo net climb, as well as other opportunities to challenge climbing, balance and confidence-building skills.

Approximately 150 people attended including the Class of 2018, student facilitators from the Class of 2017, faculty and Office of Students and Instruction staff and faculty from the UF Dean of Students Office. In addition, the group included faculty members from the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health and Health Professions and Dr. Alex Thomasson of the Merial Corporation as a facilitator and as a corporate sponsor. The event was also sponsored in part by the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and Purina.

A gallery of photos taken during the event can be found here.


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October 2014

FLE 2014

Incoming students participate in First-Year Leadership Experience

First-year students recently participated in a revamped leadership experience program.

Dr. Art Donovan, left, introduced Dr. Maarten Drost, center, during his induction into the Cattle Production Veterinarian's Hall of Fame, held as part of the Association of Bovine Veterinary Practitioners annual meeting on Sept. 26. At right is Dr. Scott Nordstrom of Merial.

Drost named to cattle group’s Hall of Fame

Dr. Maarten Drost has been named to the Cattle Production Veterinarians Hall of Fame.

Dr. Bonnie Gaston

Anesthesia resident honored at national meeting

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