Veterinary Science CTE students help give the animals at Gull Meadow Farms proper care

Students are working with the animals on Gull Meadow Farms. A student from the animals and plants EFE is trimming the hooves of a goat as Maddie Straton is restraining the animal.

Credit: Abigayle Smith

Students are working with the animals on Gull Meadow Farms. A student from the animals and plants EFE is trimming the hooves of a goat as Maddie Straton is restraining the animal.

Abigayle Smith, Staff Writer

Waking up early in the morning, heading off to a farm to work with animals instead of doing schoolwork is the dream of any student, but especially a dream for a veterinary science CTE student. 

The KRESA Career and Technical Education program, also known as CTE, is available for students from all different schools like Portage Central, Loy Norrix and Gull Lake. Specifically, the veterinary science CTE is based on helping students gain knowledge that can lead to a career as a veterinarian or working with animals in the future. 

The vet science students got to go to Gull Meadow Farms on October 15, 2021 in order to work with the petting zoo animals on their farm. 

“We schedule that for twice a year so we make a fall trip and a spring trip [to Gull Meadows],” said Dr. Noreen Heikes. 

Gull Meadow Farms was founded by Julius Wendzel in 1949. Julius Wendzel’s grandson, David Wendzel, first started selling produce as he took over the business in 1978.

The teacher of the veterinary science CTE is Dr. Noreen Heikes. Dr. Heikes has been a veterinarian for 32 years. She teaches students how to take care of animals at Gull Meadow Farms. Heikes doesn’t do the work herself, but her students use what they have learned in class to examine the animals.

“Typically they will be doing quick mini-exams,” said Heikes. “They also trim all the hoofs on the all the hoofed animals, they vaccinate all of the sheep and goats. They will also handle alpacas, they will collect stool samples and check for intestinal parasites. They do some grooming with the donkeys and the ponies and the minis, so they’re pretty busy!”

After the students were taught how to do these activities to help the animals, they got to work. For some, this was their first time working with the animals.

“Yes, it was our first time going, and I believe we’re planning on going in the spring as well,” said senior Maddie Stratton from Portage Central High School. 

Even though it might have been the students’ first time working with the animals, they learned a lot from the teachings of Dr. Heikes about how to handle animals who don’t stay still. 

“I learned that they are certainly not very cooperative, so you have to restrain them really well. I also learned how to properly vaccinate them which was really interesting and then lastly I learned how to apply their heart-worm medication based on their body weight,” said Stratton. 

The work that these students did with the animals was fun, but there were some aspects that were not as enjoyable as others. It was a rainy day when they worked, causing some difficulty when trying to help the animals. 

Ryker Bishop, a senior at Gull Lake High School explained what he disliked about helping the animals: “[I disliked] how muddy it was. That did not make it fun trying to catch them,” said Bishop.

Although this trip was a good experience for most, it caused some of the students to be a bit nervous about vaccinating the animals.

 “I didn’t want to accidentally hit a blood vessel and then have to find a new spot on them to inject it,” said Bishop.

The opportunity that was given to these students helped them decide if they would like to continue working in a field with animals. 

“I would absolutely go again,” said Stratton. “I adore all the petting zoo animals. I really enjoyed providing them with their proper medications and just getting to know them.”