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K-State Today

January 10, 2019

New grant supports animal health training for high school teachers in Kansas

Submitted by Adrian Austin

Bob Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently awarded an education grant of $149,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The grant, "Capacity building in animal health," will be utilized to support the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, in Manhattan, as well as animal health capacity-building throughout Kansas. The grant will be distributed over the course of three years.

Constructed by the Department of Homeland Security, NBAF will be a state-of-the-art biocontainment laboratory for the study of diseases that threaten both America's animal agricultural industry and public health. NBAF's goal is similar to the goal Rowland has for the capacity building grant: strengthen the nation's ability to conduct research, develop vaccines, diagnose emerging diseases and train veterinarians.

The overall goal of the project is to develop a self-sustaining program that better prepares high school teachers to deliver outstanding teaching in animal health biotechnology.

"This is a totally unique program in that it: focuses on training high school teachers in Kansas, integrates the educational strengths of the Olathe campus with the animal health expertise in the College of Veterinary Medicine, conducts a summer boot camp that immerses high school teachers in animal biotechnology techniques and is conducted using the Rowland research lab in the veterinary college," Rowland said. "We plan to enhance science education in Kansas, increase the number and diversity of qualified workers who get jobs in NBAF, plus other federal facilities or companies throughout the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor and increase the diversity of applicants to the veterinary school."

The program includes the collaboration of the animal health and science education programs at Kansas State University's campuses in both Manhattan and Olathe. Participants at the Olathe campus include Jackie Spears, acting associate dean for academic affairs, and Gary Anderson, director of the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute; along with Jessica Popescu, a high school teacher and K-State graduate. Additional partners are the animal health companies distributed throughout the Animal Health Corridor.

The major focus of the grant will be on the three-week summer boot camp in animal health biotechnology for high school science teachers recruited from the Greater Kansas City area. This will include teachers from schools serving underrepresented communities.

The shorter-term impact is to increase in the number and diversity of high school students entering animal health professional programs at community colleges and four-year institutions in Kansas.

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