Community Involvement

Habitat for Humanity
Heifer International
Holy Family Catholic High School
Majestic Hills Ranch
Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation
Minnesota Horse Council

Community Partner: Heifer International

Dr. Julia Wilson, associate professor, large animal medicine, is a member of  the board of directors of Heifer International. The sole veterinarian on the board, she is serving a three-year term representing the Midwestern region of the United States.

Dr. Wilson introduced Odo, a goat belonging to Laurel Schedin, to a group of children at St. Peter Claver Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 2006. The children were celebrating their accomplishment of raising enough money to purchase a goat for a poor family in Africa via Heifer International's "Read to Feed" program.

"The children were fascinated by this gentle giant and learned a bit about goat husbandry," said Dr. Wilson. "I enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm for large animals with them as well as discussing hunger and poverty in many countries."

Dr. Wilson has also organized other activities for Heifer International at the College over the last several years, including a volunteer workshop in November 2005.

Since 1944, Heifer International has helped 38 million people move toward greater self-reliance through livestock development and training.  Heifer stresses education about the root causes of hunger and sustainable solutions that are earth-friendly. For more information about Heifer International, visit

Community Partner: Habitat for Humanity

On April 22, 2006, a group of graduate students and faculty in the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences program spent the day working for the Minneapolis chapter of the Habitat for Humanity. They built the inside and outside wall frames for a house and raised $195 for the chapter. Standing, from left, are Dr. Kent Reed, Dr. Mark Rutherford, Dr. Mike Murtaugh, Dr. Rebecca LaRue, Dr. Bruce Walcheck, Dr. Geoff Hirsch, two Habitat homeowners, Dr. Dianna Saam, Ben Silberglitt (Dr. Amy Treeful’s husband), a Habitat homeowner, Dr. Andy Petzold, Dr. Temene Melkamu, and Dr. Erik Olson. Kneeling are Dr. Robyn Milkie, Betty Braun (Dr. Jen Brazzell’s mom, from Winnipeg, Manitoba), Dr. Margaret McNulty, Dr. Jen Brazzell, Dr. Amy Treeful, and Dr. Trasida Ployngam.

Community Partners:

In August 2005, Dr. Travis Kingsley, class of 2001, referred Bailey, a 9-year-old paint gelding, to the Veterinary Medical Center to see veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. James V. Schoster. The horse’s owner had noticed that the horse seemed to be having a problem with his eye while out on a trail ride.

Dr. Schoster found advanced ocular disease in that eye, including a detached retina caused by uveitis (also known as moon blindness). Not only was Bailey was blind in that eye, but the eye was painful. It would need treatment three times a day or more to make it more comfortable, and there was an increased risk of disease in the remaining eye. Concerned about Bailey’s prognosis and worried about their safety when riding him, the owners considered euthanasia. But Dr. Julie Wilson, large animal medicine division head, suggested another option: enucleation (eye removal), which is usually followed by good ridability. She also suggested that they consider donating the horse to the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation (MNHARF), in Zimmerman, Minn.

The owners chose the donation option, as they were not confident about their ability to manage the horse with the increased risk of disease in the remaining eye and would still be worried about their safety when riding him. MNHARF agreed to take the horse and pay for enucleation, as a large donation had just been received from The Justice League, a youth group at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, Minn. The fund-raising was led by Annelise Brown, who was inspired by the MNHARF Web site, and “thinking about how sick or hurt animals would have to be turned away because the money wasn't there." Annelise put together a Battle of the Bands and raised $570.75.

Dr. Florien Jenner and Dr. Mary Boyce of the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center removed Bailey’s diseased eye that very day, with Dr. Micah Bishop providing anesthesia. Bailey recovered beautifully and was soon happily munching hay. The following day, Dr. Wilson transported Bailey to Majestic Hills Ranch in Lakeville, Minn., where he recuperated from his surgery and became available for adoption.

Community Partners:

Veterinary student Stacie Kutzbach, worked as the equine health expert for the 52 horses at Kici Yapi, a YMCA camp in Prior Lake, Minn., during the summer of 2005. Veterinary students also worked in this capacity at Camp Christmas Tree and Camp St. Croix. It was all part of a collaboration with the Minnesota Horse Council, which supplemented the veterinary student's camp counselor salary with a $2,000 stipend at the end of the summer.

“Stacie was a tremendous ambassador for the College, as well as a role model for
the 300-plus kids who came to this camp every day,” said Dr. Julie Wilson, large animal medicine division head.

The veterinary students will be making a presentation to their peers in a meeting of the Student Chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and will also make a presentation to the Minnesota Horse Council. Dr. Wilson plans to apply for continued grant support from the Horse Council.

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  • Last modified on January 21, 2014