PIQUA — The Upper Valley Career Center celebrated the commemoration of its new Veterinary Science building during an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday.
“Our goal was to create a state-of-the-art facility to house our advanced veterinary program,” said UVCC Superintendent Dr. Nancy Luce. “Since our inception, Upper Valley Career Center has always been evolving. We’re always updating and changing our curriculum, our equipment, and our facilities, because we know if we don’t change, we will no longer be relevant, and we will no longer be able to prepare our students for careers they’re excited about, look forward to, or may not even know exist.”
“This was something that started even back to my days as an ag teacher in Anna,” said UVCC Assistant Superintendent Jason Haak. “We heard from our students there about interest in animal agriculture, and where they might go for more training. At UVCC, we offer a very diverse amount of programs, but we did not have anything in animal agriculture. With animal agriculture being a staple in Shelby, Miami, Darke, Mercer, and the other counties around here, we knew that was a void that we needed to fill.
“The goal of this program is to expose students to all of the opportunities there are in animal agriculture, and there are a lot of them. With the staff we have, we’re very poised to do that.”
Construction of the facility was contracted through Levin Porter Architects of Miamisburg, and Westerheide Construction of Sidney. Crews broke ground in June 2017, with the facility reaching completion in March 2018. In addition to a regular classroom, the facility features exam rooms, kennels for dogs and cats, testing and animal isolation rooms, a high bay lab with kennel spaces for cows and horses, and a fully-fuctioning treatment center for animal surgery, dentistry, and medical research.
According to UVCC Director Pat Gibson, construction of the facility came in under budget.
“We had a budget of $1.5 million,” Gibson confirmed. “With contracts and miscellaneous equipment, at our last count, we’re at $1.28 million. We funded that through a bond we borrowed against, so there’s no voted millage. Representation on this job was second-to-none.”
Excessive interest in the program, which hit enrollment limits on opening night, encouraged the staff to expand the number of slots offered in the first year’s programs.
“We originally were going to accept 25 students into a program, but because of the number that applied this year, we decided to accept 30 students,” said UVCC instructional supervisor Michelle Brunson. “Students come in as juniors, and once the program is finished, they can go on to higher programs at a collegiate level.”
Four courses are offered throughout the two-year program, including animal science, animal anatomy and physiology, animal health, and veterinary science. Students can earn three semester hours of college credit for each course completed.
Under the tutelage of Dr. Deb Stanfield, DVM., the Veterinary Science program has a strong focus on preparing students for a veterinary career and offers them the insight for a head start toward competitive university programs.
“When Mr. Haak and I toured other animal science programs around Ohio, we realized there’s only a few that have veterinarians,” Brunson said. “Having a veterinarian and vet tech on site will allow us to do surgeries on animals, offer more in-depth animal procedures, and just provide a well-rounded experience to all students.”
“We’re working on things with Edison on college credit opportunities for kids in their classes that want those experiences,” Haak said. “This is a program we really see going long-term, and continuing to grow to support the industry in Miami and Shelby counties.”
For more information, visit www.uppervalleycc.org.