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Archive for the Outreach Category

WVDL Microbiologist Participates in Local Outreach Program

WVDL’s Pfotenhauer Helps Eighth Graders Through Outreach

(Note:  Beth Pfotenhauer is a microbiologist with the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.  She is actively involved in community service and has recapped her most recent outreach involvement with the “School Makes a Difference’ program.)

What do a Charter network supervisor, the owner of Chick-Fil-A, the City Clerk (bottom right) and a WVDL microbiologist (top right) all have in common? We all spent our Thursday morning with two eighth grade classrooms at Hamilton Middle School. On Feb.5, I had the great pleasure of participating in the Madison Metropolitan School District outreach program called “School Makes a Difference” (commonly known as career days). As a representative of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, I brought in lab coats, gloves and safety glasses for the students to try on while a few student volunteers extracted wheat germ DNA (below). We discussed what “diagnostic work” entails and how it affects Wisconsin farmers.

During this outreach we shared how our school journeys had led us to the jobs we have today and the decisions in school that guided our personal growth. We also gave the students sage advice about the difficulties of owning a business, the importance of being polite or practicing good customer service, the power of voting, and tools used for correctly identifying disease and sickness in animals. The students had a lot to think about, but were also encouraged that their passions as well as weaknesses should guide the classes they choose for high school and post school success. Who knows—we may have an inspired future WVDL employee in the makings.

Great Job, Beth!

BethOutreach

 

Dr. Cindy Bell to Speak at WEZAM Conference

WVDL Pathologist to Speak at UW Madison WEZAM Conference

Dr. Cindy Bell Diagnostic Pathologist DVM, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2008 Diplomate ACVP

Dr. Cindy Bell

Dr. Cindy Bell, DVM, DACVP, will be speaking about backyard poultry medicine at the Wisconsin Exotic Animal Veterinary Conference on March 1st, 2015 held at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Bell’s lecture will be an interactive case-based lecture that discusses some of the most common health issues in backyard flocks, including enteric disease, respiratory disease, reproductive issues, and skin conditions.  Dr. Bell will answer questions regarding husbandry, vaccination, parasite control, predator control, and nutrition.

 

If you attend the lecture, stop by and say hello to Dr. Bell!

WVDL Staff Member Returns from Island of Grenada

Allison.nutmeg

Allison on a hike. She is holding nutmeg from the Spice Island (what the Island of Grenada is called) that has just been picked.

Klein Returns to WVDL After Eight Week Training Project on the Island of Grenada

Finishing up her eight-week training project at St. George’s University on the Island of Grenada, Allison Klein has had an excellent experience and is ready to come home to Madison. Allison is a histotechnologist at the WVDL and has been helping train a new histotechnologist in the Pathology Department at the St. George’s University Veterinary School.
Allison reports the training has gone very well and the H&E, along with new special stains, look great heading off to the pathologists. One of the problems they have had is getting the microtome fully functional. Staff has been hampered by significant time delays in receiving new shipments of replacement parts and blades to the island of Grenada, which is near Trinidad and Tobago.
Klein says, “I’ve learned a lot about not only histology, but also about the island and the people that live here. I’ll be excited to tell you all about it when I get back!”

 

DSC00304

Jessica Holland, a Medical Illustrator at SGU, is being trained in histology techniques at the hood.

A new histotechnician ata SGU, Veronica Alexander is shown here at the embedding station.

A new histotechnician at SGU, Veronica Alexander, is shown here at the embedding station.

Dr. Keshaw Tiwari practicing sectioning at the microtome.

Dr. Keshaw Tiwari practicing sectioning at the microtome.

 

Sockett to Address Bovine Veterinary Nutrition Conference

Dr. Don Sockett to speak at Bovine Veterinary Nutrition Conference

Dr. Donald Sockett Veterinary Microbiologist DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981 PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991 Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

Dr. Donald Sockett
Veterinary Microbiologist
DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981
PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991
Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

 

Dr. Sockett will be a program speaker at the Bovine Veterinary Nutrition Conference at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Wildwood, Missouri this week.

Dr. Sockett’s talks focus on diagnostics for calf health problems and stillbirths. The conference is October 28th-30th, 2014, and will feature a combination of lectures, discussion groups, and industry updates.

 

 

WVDL Histotechnologist’s Work Takes Her to Grenada

WVDL’s Klein on Assignment to the Island of Grenada

 

Allison Klein, a histotechnologist at the WVDL, is on a two-month assignment to train a new histotechnologist at the School of Veterinary MedicineStGeorgesuniversity at St. George’s University.   St. George’s University has recently obtained American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accreditation and is located on the Island of Grenada in the Caribbean Sea, about 200 miles north of Trinidad and Tobago on the northern coast of South America.

When the lab becomes operational, they will support a biopsy and necropsy case load. The caseload includes research work and mostly dogs with a mix of cats, small ruminants, chickens, pigs, terrestrial wildlife, and marine wildlife.

Stay tuned for updates and pictures from Allison’s extension assignment.

 

Community Outreach Important to WVDL Staff

WVDL Booth Is a Hit at Science Expo 2014

Recently, several WVDL staff members took their expertise outside the lab, taking part in Science Expo 2014.  One of those participants, WVDL microbiologist Beth Pfotenhauer, recounts that day below.

WVDL staff members engaging young students at Science Expo 2014.

Bright and early one Saturday in April, Dr. Cindy Bell (WVDL pathologist), Dr. Kathy Kurth (WVDL Section Chief Virology), Carol Hulland (WVDL Microbiology Supervisor), Kristin Raymond and I (WVDL microbiologists) prepared an engaging interactive booth called, Healthy Chickens-Healthy Families: Veterinary Diagnostics for Birds, to share with the public at Science Expo 2014.

Science Expo 2014 is a tremendously busy event with hundreds of families and excited kids running every which way with goopy substances in tubes and huge smiles on their faces. The enthusiasm of the many visitors to our booth reassured me that our collaborative efforts successfully engaged our audience and taught them just a bit about bird and human health.

Kids threw themselves into stuffing our yarn “RNA” Avian Influenza genome pieces into the balloons and creatively decorating their own interpretations of the Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase binding proteins with colored sharpies (only a few popped).  Kristin was impressed by the advanced knowledge base that the middle school students had already knowing about viruses and human DNA. This made it easier to explain Avian Influenza in more depth. She also thought it was cute how a number of the younger children, when asked if they had ever been sick, replied “no.”

In the bacteriology section, the young science minds decoded Salmonella serotypes and learned premises of the “serious” strains. Some kids had very good questions. Those who had heard about Salmonella before and had backyard birds were interested to learn that not all strains of Salmonella are problematic for humans. They also were amazed at how you can use serotyping to trace back to where an infection started.

On the far end of the table in the pathology section, Jeopardy was a hit with testing the participants’ knowledge of bird-human health facts. It seemed that our wonderful Duck-Dr-Bell, satisfied many participants’ curiosities and concerns over their own or neighbors’ back yard birds. Dr. Bell noted “It was energizing to see the diversity and depth of science on campus all involved in the larger event and every one’s participation to make their science accessible.”

We had an abundance of game options, and only so much table space. But for a select number of visitors, their scientific curiosity and understanding led them to the “harder games” where brother and sister and school mates raced each other to put all the “components” of PCR together. My favorite experiences were when the parents following their kids also had enlightenment moments of “aha, you guys test for Avian Influenza that way…hmm…interesting.”

A great insight by Kristin shows the heart of successful outreach engagement. “The viral particle balloon activity was easily modified depending on the age and understanding of the student. I really enjoyed asking questions to determine where approximately the student was at, and then attempt to modify my explanation to help them get something out of it.”

I believe we all made great educational moments for these kids and would characterize our outreach event as a success. We made the public aware of our role as diagnosticians in Wisconsin and on campus, and gave kids an interesting spark into the world of avian microbes and bird health precautions. Based on the number of balloons we went through, over 120 kids (plus their parents) visited our station and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

WVDL Outreach Includes Educating Students Through Lab Tours

 GlobeUniversityWVDL Provides Tours for Veterinary Technician Students

Each quarter, Dr. Megan Jordan from Globe University brings a group of vet tech students to the WVDL for an informational tour of the lab. The students start in the Sample Receiving Department. Here they get pointers on the proper way to package and submit specimens to the lab. Dan Christensen, a Senior Lab Sample Receiving Technician, talks about the things that help and hinder the processing of samples. “Showing the students what not to do has a huge impact on the learning process.  They get to see what happens to the specimens when improperly shipped: boxes full of broken tubes, bags of mixed feces or milk, wrong types of specimens sent for testing, etc. Proper packing and shipping of biological specimens to a diagnostic lab is an essential part of the testing process. It is directly related to the turnaround time of their clients’ results.”

The vet tech students then go on to tour the rest of the lab including bacteriology, virology, histology, serology and pathology. “They get a general overview of some of the work that is done in each lab section. I try to focus on showing them the areas of testing that they will be dealing with  at their respective veterinary clinics,” informs Christensen.

Outreach programs are an integral part of WVDL. The staff at WVDL are more than happy to contribute to this growing veterinary community…and we’re pretty sure the vet techs enjoy the tours, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WVDL Staff Making a Difference in the Community

Many WVDL staff members not only perform in the lab, but also take part in outreach events outside the lab.  One such recent occasion involved speaking to local middle school students about the impact schooling has had on your career.  Our very own senior chemist Kate Smith was one of four WVDL personnel to participate in this education program.  She has summarized her experience below.

 

 School Makes a Difference

Kate Smith, chemistWhen asked to speak in front of a group of eighth graders last year, all of my middle-school anxiety came flooding back, along with plenty of angst and awkwardness (well, perhaps I never grew out of that last one).  Luckily the whole experience went relatively smoothly; so much so, that I readily volunteered again this year.  Plus, working as only one of two chemists at WVDL, I feel the need to jump on any outreach and networking opportunity.  Along with three other scientists: Dr. Cindy Bell (a veterinary pathologist), Carol Hulland and Beth Pfotenhauer (both microbiologists), I ventured out to various Madison Area middle schools to convince kids that their education is indispensible if they want to have a promising career.

The School Makes a Difference Program is sponsored by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and made possible by collaboration with the Madison Metropolitan School District Career and Technical Education Program.  While standing (nervously, in my case) in front of a classroom of students, we discussed our careers; including what we do during a typical work day, how we dress at work (the firefighters and police officers always steal the show at this point!), and most importantly, what skills are needed.  We reminisced about what we wanted to be when we grew up (some early aspirations of ours were quite humorous), and how we eventually ended up where we are today.  Not too many students are excited by their current math and science classes, so I had to make it interesting by letting them try on some lab coats, talk about the details of my animal fluid and tissue-filled days (turns out eighth graders love to be grossed out), and the big finale: passing around some fist-size gallstones from a zebra.  With these methods I was able to convince a group of kids that science is indeed awesome…well, at least for the entire eight minutes that I held the floor.  That, I think, can be considered a successful example of outreach.