Thanking our volunteers

April 8, 2019

April 7–13 is National Volunteer Week, which was established by Presidential Proclamation in 1974 to highlight the various opportunities available for those interested in volunteering. At the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), volunteers are invaluable. They assist with a wide variety of initiatives, helping us carry out our mission of improving the health and well-being of animals and people, and strengthening Minnesota's economy by providing high-quality education, conducting leading-edge research, and delivering innovative veterinary services.

Prospective student interviews

Each year, the CVM invites prospective veterinary students to campus for in-person interviews. Due to the number of applicants invited, these interviews would not be possible without the help of volunteers. This February, 26 alumni volunteered to partner with faculty and staff to conduct 307 interviews for the class of 2023. As a result, 105 students have been admitted to the CVM for this fall.

“We are so grateful for our graduates who carve time out of their busy practices to volunteer to help us select the next generation of veterinarians,” says Laura Molgaard, DVM, associate dean of academic and student affairs at the CVM. “All of our volunteers helped us select a highly qualified group for the DVM class of 2023, and we are very appreciative of their efforts. We could not manage this complex process without them.”

“We are so grateful for our graduates who carve time out of their busy practices to volunteer to help us select the next generation of veterinarians.” Laura Molgaard, DVM

Rehabilitating the wild

The Raptor Center (TRC) was also established in 1974 as part of the CVM and treats roughly 1,000 sick and injured raptors each year, while helping to identify emerging environmental issues related to raptor health and populations. The center currently has 300 volunteers, ranging from 17–90 years old, without whom TRC could not function. Cumulatively, TRC’s volunteer base did 19,000 hours of volunteering in 2018.

TRC volunteer celebrationOn Sunday, April 7, TRC invited its volunteers to celebrate Nero's 45th birthday as a thank you for all the hard work volunteers pour into raptor care. Nero, a turkey vulture, is an education bird at TRC who shares the same age as the center.

Clinic crew volunteers at TRC assist staff and veterinarians with the care of injured wild raptors by preparing food, cleaning bird enclosures, and helping to feed and medicate raptors. Education volunteers present The Raptor Center’s mission to the public by leading tours and teaching the public about raptors and their role in the environment. Volunteers on the flight crew help with the physical conditioning of recovering raptor patients by exercising the birds and assessing their abilities as they regain their flight skills. Transport volunteers assist with the transporting of injured and sick raptors from a variety of locations throughout the state to The Raptor Center for medical treatment.

The summer tour guide education volunteers are college students or recent graduates who work with volunteer naturalists and interpretive naturalists to greet the public, give informal tours, and assist with various education and interpretive projects. They also provide care and maintenance to TRC's education raptors through food preparation, cleaning mews, and taking care of equipment.

“Our volunteers are absolutely critical to our ability to deliver our mission,” says Julia Ponder, DVM, MPH, executive director of TRC. “Without them, we can't create the change we strive for.”


Education through volunteering

VMC volunteersDog Rehab Volunteers, Madeleine Christen and Claire Silberman, pose with one of their patients (Pasquale) in the rehabilitation services room at the VMC.

The Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) has more than 35 volunteers who support patients in the rehabilitation, oncology, and ultrasound services. They are all University of Minnesota undergraduate pre-vet or animal science majors with an interest in learning more about the field of Veterinary Medicine through a hands-on approach.

Client assistance volunteers assist staff and vet students with simple care for farm animal patients and their mothers. They sit with the babies, monitor their functioning, and report observations to staff. Dog Rehab Volunteers assist the rehabilitation technicians with dogs going through therapy, handling dogs before and after treatment in various ways and freeing up the rehab technicians to provide the direct therapy. Ultrasound volunteers help the ultrasound staff take care of patients undergoing ultrasound procedures, again freeing up the staff to better provide direct care for the animals. Support service volunteers at the VMC help with customer service and communications, helping the VMC organize and stay on top of its case load.

"We’d like to thank our volunteers for their hard work and dedication," says Scott Horsfall, director of customer service. "They are a crucial part of our team and the services we provide."