By Eduardo Castaeeda
Cal Poly Pomona’s Animal Health Science & Technology Association continues its efforts to increase student awareness and involvement in the welfare of animals.
AHSTA, a student organization associated with the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, has been a part of the university for over 20 years.
According to AHSTA President McKenna Johnson, a fourth-year animal health science student, the organization’s main goal is to introduce students to the diversity of species that exists outside of the average home.
Johnson believes the organization can help students of all fields educate themselves and become better students.
“A lot of people who are interested in this field do tend to think of basic animals and basic hospitals. We want to broaden the horizon for our members,” said Johnson. “I also want to work with the pre-veterinarian students because we haven’t in the past. I’m trying to bind us together, so we can work a little better.”
According to Johnson, club members could immediately benefit from the organization because it offers several networking opportunities to meet professionals of all disciplines.
AHSTA provides its members with these opportunities by going on field trips to the aquarium, attending seminars and conferences and hosting social events.
One of the organization’s main events is attending the Western Veterinary Conference every winter. The WVC is an international conference that provides veterinary professionals and students access to career training, classes and seminars. There are also showrooms that introduce health care professionals to new companies and products.
According to the WVC’s website, its mission is to provide professionals with the appropriate skills and methods to improve health care for humans and animals on a global scale.
The five-day conference also offers students information that CPP does not have access to, said Johnson. She said it is one of the most important events for the upperclassmen of the organization.
Only the upperclassmen attend the WVC because they have a stronger foundation of the field, said Johnson. She said it is limited because the conference is very technical and complex for new members.
While the WVC is only offered to upperclassman, the rest of the organization’s events are for all members.
Some of these events are field trips to the San Diego Zoo, Santa Anita Race Track, Aquarium of the Pacific and pet therapies at elderly homes and hospitals. The organization also hosts more social events like bowling nights, line dancing and bake sales.
AHSTA Vice President Sarah Devolve, a third-year transfer animal health science student, said she enjoys the social events the most. She is most concerned with the involvement of the students.
“I wish to have a successful year and have everyone be enthusiastic about all of our events. We love having everyone participate in the program and wanting to help each other out,” said Devolve. “We accept everyone, if you’re interested in the welfare of animals, we’ll take you.”
Devolve’s favorite social event is the annual visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The organization is taken on a tour of the aquarium and receives a separate tour with a technician.
The aquarium technicians show the organization what the large tanks look like from behind and teach them how the operations work. The technicians also show the organization the chemistry lab and on-site hospital.
Devolve said that the technicians allow members to feed animals in the large tanks that are available.
Another event that AHSTA hosts every year is the Japanese Student Seminar. The Animal Health Science program invites students from Japan to learn alongside with its professors and officers.
The organization also teaches students how to perform CPR and use and IV catheter by using large stuffed animals.
AHSTA Agriculture Representative Shannon Stalford, a third-year transfer animal health science student, said the Japanese student seminar helped her learn by teaching other students the material.
“The first time I did this was a challenge, but it was fun,” said Stalford. “It was really cool to meet people from so far away that are doing the same job and are in the same program as you.”
Stalford believes that the student seminar is a great way to meet people of similar interests, as they spend a lot of weekends together. She said it is easy to work with people that share the same goal.
Stalford said she wants to focus on providing the members with as much support as possible, as it can be hard to balance school, work and life.
“It’s a tough major, we learn a lot of things that most vet students didn’t learn in their second or third year of school like we did,” said Stalford. “We have challenging skills and material that we need to learn. I want be a supporter for the club and make sure we succeed.”
Courtesy of McKenna Johnson
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