CANYON, TX (KFDA) - Construction can now begin on a veterinary education facility at West Texas A&M.
On Thursday, the Texas A&M Board of Regents approved the construction of the Texas A&M Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach (VERO) center at WT.
The total project budget adds up to $22 million, with program leaders hoping it will meet a growing need in surrounding areas.
What’s now a flat lot will soon be home to a more than 22,000 square-foot facility that aims to shape future generations of veterinarians.
Current students like Alaina Africano said the field is already flourishing.
“The pre-vet program is really big here at WT,” said the sophomore agricultural media and communications major. “Half of my freshman class was pre-vet. So if it does anything, it will establish WT as less of a commuter school and more of a stay here, and get your degree, you’re going to be here for a long time so you might as well establish yourself in Canyon.”
Which educators said is the goal of the VERO program.
“This is an under-served area in Texas,” said Dr. Dan Posey, the academic coordinator of the Texs A&M VERO program. “In 2008, a decision was made by the [Texas A&M] College of Veterinary Medicine that we needed to invest more resources out here.”
Dr. Posey said the program will focus on the upper 26 counties in the panhandle as well as the south plains and border states.
He added that students in the program will come from Texas A&M in College Station to WT for classes just as students from Canyon will go there.
The building will be located next to the new Agricultural Sciences Complex as well as the planned Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) facility currently in the process of relocating from Amarillo to Canyon.
Dr. Posey said it’s going to be a regional veterinary teaching center that will facilitate research among scientists across the region... and hopefully, keep some of them here.
“We know this program works very well because 60 percent of the students will return back home and serve in this profession,” he said. "We need rural practitioners because they are the backbone of food animal industry but also the backbone of many communities in which they serve. They don’t just serve as veterinarians, they serve as school board representatives, they’re on the city council, they serve the community. So that’s the reason we want them to be part of those rural communities.
Construction on the VERO building is set to begin in December with it to be complete in June of 2020.