Each summer, the College of Veterinary Medicine offers a wide variety of international opportunities for students from the Galapagos Islands to Guatemala and Uganda.
For two students, the trip, “One Health Uganda: Human, Livestock and Wildlife Interface,” allowed them to continue their love of travel and combine it with an educational component where they learned first-hand how humans, livestock and wildlife coexist in the country.
“The trip took us (students) to the inside places where we could really see the interaction between humans, livestock and wildlife,” said Linda Varner-Truitt, a second-year veterinary medicine student.
The group spent 17 days in Uganda where they had discussions with government and veterinary experts on Uganda’s zoonotic and non-communicable environmental threats to humans and animals. Students also visited ranches near the national wildlife areas to learn how the health and welfare of livestock is protected as well as the Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks.
The large animal focus of the trip appealed to Calie Peterson, a second-year veterinary medicine student.
“I’m planning to track large animal medicine during my studies at Iowa State so this trip fit in well with my intended career path,” she said. “We learned the value in wildlife rather than just the negative impacts wildlife can have on community livestock such as those that prey on their animals.”
During the trip, the students assisted the Uganda national diagnostic lab with blood sample collection in cattle, sheep and goats. They also visited an animal shelter where the local veterinarian spoke about her daily schedule and the challenges she faces working in the country’s only animal shelter.
The two Iowa State veterinary students said they have been frequent travelers but prior to this trip, neither had journeyed to Africa. The opportunity to expand not only their veterinary knowledge, but their knowledge of the culture was too good to pass up.
“I think it is always valuable to see new ways of doing the things that we might think about as routine procedures,” Peterson said. “In the event that I am faced with a situation where I don’t have all the tools and resources necessary, I think after this trip I will have a better perspective and be creative with what I do have to complete the task in the best way I can."
“I learned invaluable lessons in Uganda that I couldn’t get from just sitting in a classroom.”
For Varner-Truitt, her journey to Africa will also aid her long after she completes her DVM degree at Iowa State.
“This trip provided me the opportunity to establish contacts in the country and other African nations,” she said. “I hope to be able to go back after graduation and use what I’ve learned to help that part of the world.”