CANYON, TX (KFDA) - West Texas A&M University's College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences is working to recruit more panhandle residents into its pre-vet program through a partnership with Texas A&M University's vet school.
The Texas A&M System is working to expand the reach of its vet program to its partner schools, starting first with WT.
This new partnership is intended to increase the number of rural veterinarians in the panhandle.
The newly established Memorandum of Agreement between WT and Texas A&M aims to pipeline students directly from Canyon to College Station for vet school.
The agreement between the 2 schools adds 5 spots to the next Texas A&M vet school class reserved specifically for WT students who show interest in rural vet medicine.
"We're embedded in the feed lots and the meat industry and the animal industry in the panhandle, and we have those resources that the A&M system has recognized," said Dr. Dean Hawkins, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. "We're going to use them to the full advantage of the state of Texas."
The new vet staff will help all pre-vet students prepare for this program, as well as reach into the community to find more students who will want to come back and serve as veterinarians in the panhandle.
"If you recruit somebody from a certain area, the tendency is about 66% of them actually drift back toward their homes," said Dr. Dan Posey, one of two new veterinarians on WT's staff. "It's the family ties and community ties that do that."
Posey said about 30% of A&M's vet students serve rural populations, and he believes WT's partnership can help increase that number.
"Our job is to identify country kids that will go back to those rural communities and provide economic impact and stability to those small towns where a veterinarian is a big part of the community," said Hawkins.
A new 140,000 square foot agriculture building is breaking ground this Friday, and it is intended to help recruit these students.
The building will hold new classrooms, labs, offices, a state-of-the-art meat lab, and an arena with spectator seating for animal showing and evaluations.
Hawkins said the Texas A&M System has placed this new building at the top of its priority list, and it's set to open for the Fall 2018 semester.
The groundbreaking will take place Friday morning, October 14th, at 10:30 on campus for anyone interested in learning more.