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Future veterinarian has once-in-a-lifetime experience

NDSU sophomore Destiny Smith plans to be a veterinarian. This summer, she had a once-in-a-lifetime experience working Destiny Smith with elephantwith animals in South Africa.

Smith is an NDSU Honors Program student and a microbiology major in the pre-veterinary track. She heard about the Safari4U Veterinary Program via an email from the NDSU Pre-vet Club and ended up spending two weeks in the township of Chintsa in South Africa, working with both wild and domesticated animals.

“The trip was so amazing – from capturing and relocating two wild giraffes, to assisting with villagers’ animals, to working at a zoo – it was so eye-opening and informational,” said Smith, who is from Mandan, North Dakota.

There are three main components to the Safari4U program – wildlife, community and agriculture. “I got to work in each one, and the experience was second-to-none from anything I have ever experienced,” Smith said, noting participants came from America, Africa, Sweden and Australia.

In the wildlife portion, participants helped with game captures and counts, darting with anti-parasitic drugs and wildlife identification. The agriculture section involves working with cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and horses. And the community aspect mainly involves small animal care.

“My favorite experience was when we would go into villages and work with local people’s animals,” Smith said of her May 15-29 stay in South Africa. “It was very eye-opening to see and learn about amazing cultures and some of their traditions. One woman even taught us how to make homemade bread and how to cook it over the coals in her kitchen.”

Safari4u regularly visits townships to assist with a variety of treatments. At the Wild Coast Community Clinic, for example, program participants provide free health care for animals.

“It was wonderful to know that I could be a part of a program that could be there to help take care of their animals. It was a true blessing,” Smith said. “Whether we were dipping dogs in a water/Triatix 250 mixture for fleas and ticks, deworming puppies or treating sick sheep and cattle, it was so inspiring to see how much they appreciated what we were doing for their animals and to know we were making a difference in their lives.”

The experience blends well with Smith’s NDSU education, preparing her for veterinary school and the career that lies ahead. She gives high praise to her adviser, Janice Haggart, instructor of microbiological sciences.

“NDSU is helping me tremendously, by helping me complete my prerequisite courses and preparing me for vet school,” said Smith. “My adviser is wonderful. She has helped me so much in picking classes that best prepare me for graduate school so that I will be able to apply for vet school a year early.”

Smith aspires to practice in North Dakota someday.

“Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a veterinarian and that’s a passion that has never wavered,” explained Smith, who is minoring in equine science. “I’d love to come back to my hometown of Mandan to practice where I grew up.”

Source: NDSU News

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