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AgDiscovery Program Seeks Iowa Teens

AgDiscovery Program Seeks Iowa Teens

ISU and USDA are inviting youth interested in studying animals to apply for the AgDiscovery program, an interesting summer learning experience. The program at ISU in Ames is set for July 17 to 30 and deadline to apply is April 15; it's best to apply early.

Iowa State University and the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service invite youth interested in studying animals to apply for the AgDiscovery program. APHIS is partnering with 13 universities and colleges to deliver the program at locations throughout the country. The Iowa State program is scheduled to run for July 17 to 30 at Ames.

Each university's AgDiscovery program focuses on a specific agricultural area, such as plant health, entomology, veterinary science, animal care, biotechnology and agribusiness. The Iowa State program will team with the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames to explore the interconnection among wildlife biology and conservation, laboratory technology and diagnostics, animal science and veterinary medicine.

Students get hands-on experience on farms, in labs and outdoors

"This year we're going to build in some wildlife forensics into the program to spice things up," says Rebecca Christoffel, one of the AgDiscovery coordinators, and an assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management. She is also the ISU Extension wildlife specialist. 

"The AgDiscovery program at ISU will increase the student's awareness of many career opportunities, give them greater confidence in their abilities to understand the scientific concepts and provide a realistic view of what is necessary for a career in areas included in the program," says Dr. Janet Payeur, AgDiscovery coordinator who is a veterinarian and scientific outreach coordinator with the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

Participants will have hands-on experiences on farms, in wildlife environments and in the laboratory. Sites they will visit include:

• Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge for a day of indoor and outdoor activities

• Animal Rescue League to observe neuters and spays 

• Blank Park Zoo to learn about taking care of captive animals and diseases that are passed between people and animals

• Specialty and research farms to learn about raising animals and potential dangers from interactions with wildlife

• USDA National Center for Animal Health to perform sheep, pig and chicken dissections and diagnostic and lab procedures

"It's great to offer up these opportunities for students who may never have done things like this before," Christoffel says. Youth age 14 to 17 years old are eligible for the two- to three-week summer program in which the teens live on campus at Ames. The program is free. Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the campus involved.

April 15 is the deadline to apply for the program. More information about this ISU program is available at Information on the application process is available at


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