LHHS veterinary class includes new lab
By SARAH SILBERSTEIN
The cinder-block classroom nestled next to the agriculture mechanic shop does not yet have a fourth wall, a door, or furniture, but Jaycee Thompson has big plans for the unfinished space and for the new veterinary science program she is spearheading at Liberty Hill High School this fall.
Thompson, who is new to Liberty Hill ISD this year, was head of the veterinary science program at Temple High School where she taught for two years. Prior to teaching, Thompson worked as a veterinary technician with large and small animals for four years and as a horseback training instructor, which is where she first discovered her love of teaching.
“I love animals and I love to spread my passion about animals,” Thompson said. “The vet science side of Ag and FFA was not around when I was in high school so when I heard about it, I was like ‘I want to get in on that.’”
The new lab space will feature a dog washing station, examination tables, dog runs, and kennels and will accompany the veterinary medical applications class, which is in its second year at LHHS. The program is a great stepping stone for students interested in the area of veterinary science.
“A lot of kids go to high school and are like ‘I want to be a vet’, but they don’t realize what goes into that because no one tells them,” Thompson said. This program will give them the knowledge and hands-on experience to pursue a career in veterinary science.
Students will have the opportunity to earn certification as veterinary assistants upon graduation, but must first complete 300 hours at a veterinary clinic, 200 hours under Thompson’s supervision in the classroom, a 72-skills checklist, and pass a state exam.
Thompson hopes to certify five students in the first year of the program though there are some obstacles to overcome in getting the program off the ground.
“It is hard for students to get (clinical) hours because a lot of these kids work after school and they cannot go and get non-paid hours for something,” she said.
Thompson would like for there to be a practicum with the veterinary science program that would allow students to earn hours toward their certification at a veterinary clinic during school hours. However, that requires classes to be re-arranged and it may be several years before that will happen. In the meantime, Thompson is reaching out to veterinary clinics within the community to partner with the school to provide students with opportunities.
In Temple, the veterinary science program students hosted a “doggie day spa” on Fridays for the canine family members of Temple High School faculty and Thompson hopes to continue the spa in Liberty Hill.
First, she needs to train the students in proper safety and procedure protocols though she hopes to start accepting dogs to the day spa before Thanksgiving. Thompson will contact LHHS faculty about the program closer to when students are trained and ready to start pampering Fido and his furry friends — after the lab has a fourth wall, of course.