Hay U: The Best Way to Spend Spring Break

Published on April 29, 2013 by arothstein

(EMMETT) When people think about college kids and spring break, they often get images of rowdy crowds, the beach scene, all-out wildness, and having fun. Well, that’s not exactly how it goes down in Emmett, Idaho. The closest beach is hundreds of miles away. Now granted, there is quite a bit of “wildness” and fun that goes on in the heart of Gem County. The tiny town was actually the destination of choice for some students from Broadview University-Boise campus. They traded in shorts and swimsuits for scrubs and microscopes. And instead of diving into a pool, they dove headfirst into learning with some kids at a 4-H camp.

Vet Tech

Shy shows kids how to prepare a slide for parasite testing.

“Get the freshest pile you can find, stick this in there, then come back to me.”

“This” is a testing device. “Me” is a student in the veterinary technology program. “Pile” is… well, the end result of a horse’s breakfast.

“Hey, look. It’s not that bad. It’s kind of like re-hydrated hay.”

For the better part of two hours, statements like these could be heard throughout the commotion at Spring Fever 4-H Camp. Approximately 25 kids of all ages spent this day learning all about their horses—from the inside out. Their primary focus was the digestive tract.  Their teachers were six students who taught them how to take samples from their own horses and perform different tests.

The kids made their own slides and then examined them under a microscope to look for parasites. They also filled thin plastic gloves with water and the “re-hydrated” hay, then hung them up like low-hanging balloons to let things settle. Twenty minutes later, they were shown how to check if their horses have sand in their digestive tract. They are taught that sand hinders digestion and can make horses sick. It can also lead to impaction and cause colic.

“These are the same tests that would be done at your vet’s office,” Shy Askew, a veterinary technology student, explains to the kids. As she directs the kids on what to do, she goes on to say, “We are vet tech students. This reinforces our learning. In doing things like this, we can stand back and say, ‘Oh yeah. That’s right. I really do remember what I learned.’”

Vet tech

Ayla shows the kids what to look for on the slides once they are prepared.

Kayla, who attends a charter school in Meridian, likes what she sees. She has an interest in veterinary medicine “It’s kinda cool seeing what’s inside of my own horse,” she says.

The day’s lesson ends with a question-and-answer session. The kids are quizzed on what they know, and a right answer leads to what every kid likes after a hard day’s brain workout—candy, of course. And it’s amazing what these kids know.

“What do rabbits and horses have in common,” Shy asks. The answer is: they don’t have a gallbladder. Oh, and if you’re wondering, horses don’t regurgitate like cows do, either. But one thing is common about all animals. They have the ability to provide lessons that can make a variety of kids interested in spending spring break far away from any beach.

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