Portland Veterinary Assisting Field Trip Gets Wild!
“Field Trip!” Who doesn’t get excited when those two words are mentioned?
Veterinary Assisting program students from our Carrington College Portland campus get the opportunity to go on regular field trips, thanks to the efforts of Pam Payne, Veterinary Assisting Program Director.
For their latest field trip just last week, 24 students visited Rosse Posse Acres, a 52-acre working elk ranch with approximately 70 head of wild elk, located about an hour from the Portland campus in Molalla, OR.
During a presentation from ranch owner Brenda Ross, students learned about elk behavior in the wild and in captivity, the husbandry of wild & domesticated big game, how to handle large animals, elk dietary needs, and more.
They also learned about their reproductive and digestive systems, their integumentary (skin/hair) system, their dentition, and the difference between antlers and horns. You may not have taken the trip, but why not try our Elk Pop Quiz? Answers found at the foot of the page.
Elk Pop Quiz
1) There are no vaccines available for wild animals, so what vaccines can they use on the elk?
2) True or false – Snow will melt if it lands on a cow, but won’t melt if it lands on an elk.
3) What does an elk have that’s one of the fastest growing animal parts known to man?
4) There are only two animals with ivory in the Pacific North West. What are they?
New Employment Avenues
The value of trips like these isn’t purely in the information they learn about a particular species, as Pam explains;
“It allows them to see other kinds of places they could work. Most people go into veterinary assisting thinking they’ll end up working for a vet, but that’s not necessarily true. Because of their certificate they can work at farms, ranches, rehabilitators, shelters, and all these other places that they may not have even considered, or been aware of. It really opens up new opportunities for them; it gets them thinking about other avenues to explore.”
Pam gets out to the elk farm about three times a year with different groups, and she tries to have a field trip at least once a month. “We’re visiting a buffalo ranch in September, the Wolf Haven (a rehabilitation center) in October, and hopefully, if I can finalize it, the vet school at OSU in August,” she explained.
Applied Real World Knowledge
The student take-away from field trips to places like the elk farm isn’t so much about the wild animals they encounter, it’s about applying the things they learn to domesticated species, as Pam explains;
“So, for example, an elk is very similar to a bovine (a cow) anatomically. But here’s a wild animal (elk) that eats differently to a domesticated animal (cow), but yet their anatomy is the same? It makes students think about things like how their intestinal tract has to work to digest different things? Or in order to survive in the wild, how does the hair differ from an elk to a cow? When I take them to a dairy farm they’ll be able to see the differences, so these trips brings these things to life.”
As well as elk, Rosse Posse Acres has a small petting zoo with deer, pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, a Patagonian cavy, a wallaby, and some chickens. “Students got to see the hierarchy of goats in action, and how they react to each other and us,” Pam said. “They also got into interact with “Tucker” the wallaby, and not many student vet assistants get the opportunity to do that!”
Pop Quiz Answers
1) Bovine (cattle) vaccines are used on elk.
2) True! It’s to do with how their body heat is retained!
3) Elk Velvet Antler is one of the fastest growing animal parts, able to grow at a rate of an inch or more every day. The velvet begins growing in March, reaches full growth by early August at which time it begins to calcify into hard antler.
4) Elk & Walrus