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HomeNewsArchivesCulture Meets Agriculture: Stateside Student Vets Studying in Territory

Culture Meets Agriculture: Stateside Student Vets Studying in Territory

May 20, 2008 — Two student veterinarians from the University of Georgia flew into Christiansted on the seaplane Tuesday to get a firsthand look at agriculture and culture on the islands.
"Seeing the agriculture on the islands and the difference on each island is an experience," said Denise Brinson, who specializes in poultry medicine, which is big on St. Croix.
The students will have an opportunity to become familiar with the diagnosis and management of veterinary problems and concerns confronting livestock and poultry farmers in the Caribbean, particularly the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a news release from the V.I. Department of Agriculture. Through work with the international veterinary medical community and Caribbean livestock farmers, the students will refine their veterinary and management skills and develop networks that advance future employment opportunities.
Both students agreed the hands-on experience has been great, far surpassing what they have done in the States. They have had the chance to experience what they studied in class.
"We got to do worming and castration already," Yandice Brown said.
It is amazing how much the land has to offer here, she said.
"It is different how people on the islands handle situations with limited recourses," Brinson said. People are more resourceful here than stateside, she said.
The program Brown and Brinson are participating in is called an "externship."
"This first-of-a-kind externship gives students an idea about food animal medicine," said Bethany Bradford, director of veterinary services for the Department of Agriculture.
There isn't a lot of interest in this branch of medicine, Bradford said.
"Animal agriculture is a big deal here," Bradford said. "It is an industry."
The Department of Agriculture is sponsoring the women from the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine. They will stay at the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas and St. Croix campus for approximately three weeks.
Brown and Brinson, both second-year students, will spend time on all three islands. They are participants in a program called Veterinary International Medicine Externship in the Caribbean, coordinated by the veterinarian for the St. Thomas Department of Agriculture, Dr. Carlotta E. Groves.
"Since I'm an alumnus of the University of Georgia vet school, it was a fairly easy activity to organize," Groves said. "Both of these students are exceptional and they should be great for me and Dr. Bradford to work with. There are a number of factors we'll be focusing on, including procedures in regulatory medicine required for the import and export of livestock, domestic and exotic animals to and from the U.S. Virgin Islands. We'll also diagnose various common and important clinical problems affecting farm animals in the territory."
The program "is a first for the Virgin Islands and it provides a valuable exchange between the students and the Department of Agriculture," said Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen Jr., according to the release.
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