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Ibendahl Gift Allows Students to Experience a Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Ibendahl gift to SIU supports Saluki Enrichment Pre-Veterinary Program camp

By Rebecca Renshaw

When Rebecca Atkinson, associate professor of animal science, discovered she had been awarded the Ibendahl Faculty Excellence award, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with the funds.

“We have a large alumni group of seasoned veterinarians in the area who are always ready to pitch in and help the college when needed,” Atkinson said. “When I approached them with the idea of hosting a two-day pre-veterinarian camp for high school students on campus, everyone immediately said they would help.”

The funds Atkinson received from the Ibendahl award went directly to purchase supplies for the inaugural Saluki Enrichment Pre-Veterinary Program camp, which aims to show high school students what a day is like in the life of a veterinarian.

Ibendahl gift to SIU supports Saluki Enrichment Pre-Veterinary Program camp

“Without the supplies, the students just wouldn’t have had the same experience,” Atkinson said. “The students’ involvement would have been much more limited.”

Some of the funds were spent to buy scrubs for the 14 high school juniors and seniors who attended the camp July 17-18 at SIU’s Department of Agriculture. The students learned about ultrasound pregnancy checks, large-animal exams, small-animal exams and pet first aid, and more.

“The camp is also a great way to recruit students to SIU,” Atkinson said. “Of the 14 students, several were thinking of attending college somewhere else – that is, until they attended our camp.”

A lifelong passion for animals led Mackenzie Burgin, a 17-year-old from Paris, Illinois, to the camp.

“Since I was young, I’ve had a huge interest in being a vet,” Burgin said. “I’ve been raised around livestock my whole life, so I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot? It’s SIU.’ ”

Atkinson plans to expand the camp next year into a three-day event and invite high school sophomores as well as juniors and seniors. The goal is to have 50 students enroll for next year.

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