New program teaches community girls about veterinary medicine

Dr. Michael Bowie instructs girls from Girls Place

Dr. Michael Bowie helps teach a group of girls from the Gainesville community about veterinary medicine during one of the weekly training sessions offered through the “This is How We Role” program.

By Sarah Carey

In the fall semester, two UF College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members and nine D.V.M. student volunteers impacted the lives of 13 girls from the Gainesville Community, spending time with them in a variety of experiences with the goal of inspiring the girls to explore careers in veterinary medicine and science.

These efforts, which continue now through the spring term, were made possible through a $5,000 grant the college received to participate in a program called “This is How We Role” at Girls Place Inc., a nonprofit after school program in Gainesville that serves children from low socioeconomic communities. Dr. Jaron Jones, who formerly served as the college’s diversity and inclusion officer, participated on the board of Girl’s Place.  The program is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award, administered through the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Michael Bowie, a clinical assistant professor of parasitology and director of the college’s community engagement and diversity outreach program, oversees the implementation and administration of the program and Boisy Waiters, coordinator of community engagement and diversity outreach and a board member of Girl’s Place, manages the program’s activities.

Girls from Girl's Place get hands-on training in clinical techniques through How We Role program

A group of girls from Girls Place had an opportunity for hands-on training in clinical techniques at the college through the “How We Role” program.

Targeting youth from kindergarten to fourth grade, the program consists of a 16-week curriculum — eight weeks per semester — through which at least two veterinary college faculty members and at least six D.V.M. students must participate.

“This was very exciting to us as an opportunity to go in on a weekly basis and provide these students with fun curriculum aligned with common core standards for the age group we were working with — but with a veterinary medicine twist to it,” Bowie said.

Led by faculty members Bowie and Dr. Chris Adin, chair of the college’s department of small animal clinical sciences, the group spends one hour per week on the program at Girl’s Place.

For example, in one of the courses, the girls had an opportunity to make believe they owned a pet store, with items for sale for dogs and cats. They used standards for math in that particular class, Bowie said. In another course, they looked at photos of dogs’ skeletal systems and compared them to humans.

Dr. Chris Adin with girls from Girls Place

Dr. Chris Adin has volunteered his time to work with young community girls through Girls Place as part of the “How We Role” program.

“We ended the year with them visiting here at UFCVM and having the opportunity to bandage stuffed-animal dogs,” Bowie said.

Nevada Smith, program director at Girl’s Place, said the girls who participated in the program last semester had “an amazing experience.”

“This program has helped in the way of exposing our girls to a career that they might not ever know anything about,” Smith said. “We found it easy to find girls that were interested in the program. The hard part was seeing whose schedules would allow them to participate.”

She said that she could see the girls’ excitement and hear them talking about the program amongst their friends.

“I had one of the girls come talk to me about how she didn’t realize all the things a veterinarian does, and the amount of schooling involved,” Smith said. “I believe we do have some future veterinarians on our hands now!”

The second semester began Jan. 23, and the program is in full swing again.

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Girls from Girl's Place get hands-on training in clinical techniques through How We Role program

New program teaches community girls about veterinary medicine

The “This is How We Role” program is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award, administered through the National Institutes of Health.

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