Experts at West Virginia University are being recognized for teaching eager 4-Hers to provide service to all those across the state – including to furry friends.

The Davis-Michael 4-H Day program received the Excellence in Animal Science Program award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents at their recent meeting.

Davis-Michael 4-H Day is a collaborative endeavor with faculty in WVU’s Davis-Michael Scholars Program and the WVU Extension Service. Faculty, staff and students guide 4-H participants through dog, cat, and veterinary sciences projects.

“The event creates a relationship with 4-H members and their parents and faculty and pre-veterinary students in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, and it enhances recruitment and exploration of veterinary careers,” said Jean Woloshuk, 4-H Youth Agriculture Extension Specialist.

The day-long program provides an overview of the Davis-Michael Scholars Program and involves faculty and students. An introduction to the service dog training course that transforms puppies into service dogs is also a highlight.

The Davis-Michael Scholars Program was established to support the pre-veterinary medical education in the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences at WVU’s Davis College.

This was made possible by a generous bequest from the estate of two Morgantown sisters, Gladys Gwendolyn Davis and Vivian Davis Michael. The Scholars Program is a direct result of their love of pets and desire for quality veterinary care in West Virginia.

“The Davis-Michael 4-H Day is an educational tool that, in part, accomplishes the wishes of the donors to provide education on pet animal care and welfare,” said Bob Dailey, Davis-Michael Professor of Animal and Nutritional Sciences and coordinator of the Scholars Program. “By supporting this extension and academic outreach activity, the Davis-Michael program facilitates improved health management of pet animals.”

“The event was planned to incorporate hands-on activities from the Dog, Cat, and Veterinary Science 4-H project books,” Woloshuk explained. “In addition, there are sessions on how to become a veterinarian and information about other possible veterinary careers.”

Davis-Michael 4-H Day has been conducted since 2009 and is a culmination of a research study to investigate the relationship between participation in 4-H projects such as Dog and Veterinary Science and the development of project and life skills.

“This study sought to determine the impact involvement in 4-H beef, dog, and veterinary science projects have on life skills development,” Woloshuk said. “The study found that participation in 4-H animal/veterinary science projects has a strong influence on life skills development.”

Life skills linked to these projects included accepting responsibility and leadership roles, developing positive self-esteem and the ability to relate to other youth, and relating better to adults.

In addition to Woloshuk and Dailey, program developers recognized with the award include: Carol Schuller, retired senior project publications coordinator of 4-H Youth Development; H.R. Scott, Monongalia County Extension Agent; and Margaret Minch, DVM and clinical assistant professor in the Davis College.

The award is sponsored nationally by Tractor Supply, including a plaque and a $1,500 cash award donated to the Scholars Program for future 4-H activities.



CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design

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