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Arkansas college will offer a new minor in animal behavior

News
Article

Lyon College will enroll the program's first students for fall 2024, while also naming a key leader to its developing school of veterinary medicine

animal behavior minor

Alison Koons, a pre-veterinary major from Jonesboro, Arkansas, is an undergraduate research student in the Animal Behavior and Cognition Lab at Lyon College. (Photos courtesy of Lyon College.)

Animal care education is growing in Arkansas. Lyon College in Batesville unveiled a new minor course of study for undergraduate students this week, and recently announced a key appointment for its developing School of Veterinary Medicine. The new animal behavior minor will be offered starting fall 2024, while the veterinary school aims to enroll its inaugural class in fall 2025.1-3

A new minor course of study

The animal behavior minor’s course of study would be beneficial to students pursuing careers in animal-related professions, including veterinary medicine, according to a news release. "One of the advantages of this minor is its emphasis on interdisciplinary study, providing students with extensive and comprehensive training in animal behavior. After completing our courses, students will have the skills needed to pursue careers as animal trainers, wildlife rehabilitators, zoo technicians and more," Britt Florkiewicz, PhD, a psychology professor who contributed to the development the new minor, said in the release.1

Although there are multiple animal science programs in Arkansas, there are no animal behavior programs in the state and only a handful in the country, according to Lyon officials. Furthermore, animal science programs emphasize husbandry procedures such as nutrition, milk and meat productions, and breeding and management, rather than behavior. "At Lyon College, we aim to offer a distinct but complementary perspective on animal-related professions," Florkiewicz said, in the release.1 "Our new minor offers a comprehensive program where students can learn about various topics in animal behavior, cognition and ecology. Students will receive theoretical and practical training.”

According to Florkiewicz, courses required to earn credit for the animal behavior minor will include Principles of Biology I and II, and Animal Behavior I and II. Electives offered for the program will allow students to specialize in certain topics or species that focus on biology and psychology such as evolution, zoology, parasitology, and comparative physiology, for example.1

The animal behavior minor will also offer valuable research opportunities for undergraduate students. "In courses such as Primate Perspectives on Behavior and the Brain, students conduct their own independent research projects," Florkiewicz said in the release.1 "Some students have even presented their work from this class at research conferences and submitted their final projects for publication in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. For those who wish to pursue graduate education, demonstrating research excellence will help them stand out as applicants."1

Through the minor program, students have an opportunity to see how different fields complement each other, noted Maryline Jones, a biology professor who also was involved in developing the course of study, in the release. "For example, in Comparative Physiology, in which students design and conduct a research experiment during the course of the semester, combined knowledge from several courses like physiology, zoology, ecology, and animal behavior is necessary to be able to understand animal responses to environmental changes," Jones added.1

A key position is filled

Dr Ashley Mounts

Ashley Mounts, DVM, was named associate dean for clinical programs and outreach at Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine

In addition to announcing the animal behavior minor, Lyon College named Ashley Mounts, DVM, its’ first associate dean for clinical programs and outreach for the School of Veterinary Medicine, earlier this month. Mounts is a native of Arkansas who earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and Bachelor of Science in zoology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and is working toward a Master of Veterinary Education degree through Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.2

"We are so pleased to welcome Dr Mounts to the professional team building the Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine," said Melissa Taverner, PhD, MSc, Lyon College president, in a news release.2 "As associate dean for clinical programs and outreach, Dr Mounts will be in our communities, working with veterinarians in their practices to identify opportunities for clinical education, ensuring that students gain experiences that will make them practice-ready upon graduation. As a native Arkansan, Dr Mounts understands the profound impact that [this] veterinary program will have on students in our state, allowing them to train at home to serve at home if that is their goal."

The new School of Veterinary Medicine aims to provide an innovative model of workplace-based veterinary education that utilizes off-campus clinical sites rather than the traditional on-campus veterinary teaching hospital for all or a substantial part of the student’s clinical learning.

"Dr Mounts brings an exciting combination of energy and leadership skills to this position,” said Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, founding dean of the Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine, in the release.2 “Her dedication to student success and to the Arkansas veterinary community combined with her focus on furthering the field of veterinary education will be a valuable asset to our development of the state’s first veterinary school.”

Mounts, a 15-year practitioner of small animal medicine, said she is “thrilled” to be part of Lyon College as it builds a veterinary program that creates opportunities for individuals in her home state. “I look forward to working with Dr Green to provide direction for the clinical curriculum and outreach to our Arkansas veterinarians and animal-owning communities,” she said in a release.2

Veterinary education is growing

Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine is one of at least 6 new veterinary education programs poised to begin serving students in the US within the next few years. It is also 1 of 2 being developed in Arkansas, which currently does not have a veterinary school.1-4

Since the start of 2024, at least 3 institutions of higher education have announced building new veterinary schools: University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Salisbury; Ana G. Méndez University-Gurabo (UAGM-Gurabo) in Puerto Rico; and Hanover College in Indiana. They join previously announced veterinary doctorate programs coming to Rowan University in New Jersey; Clemson University in South Carolina; and Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Additionally, Utah State University in Logan, which sends DVM candidates to Washington State University in Pullman to complete the final 2 years of study, is expanding its program to allow students to attend USU for all 4 years of the program.4

References

  1. Leading the pack: Lyon College to offer new animal behavior minor. News release. Lyon College. March 7, 2024. [email]
  2. Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine names associate dean for clinical programs and outreach. News release. February 5, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.lyon.edu/news/posts/lyon-college-school-of-veterinary-medicine-names-associate-dean-for-clinical-programs-and-outreach
  3. Lyon College School of Veterinary Medicine names founding dean. June 1, 2023. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.dvm360.com/view/lyon-college-school-of-veterinary-medicine-names-founding-dean
  4. Coppock K. University of Maryland Eastern Shore plans to admit first veterinary students in 2026. dvm360. February 26, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.dvm360.com/view/university-of-maryland-eastern-shore-plans-to-admit-first-veterinary-students-in-2026
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