Stephanie Wilton at first glance looks like she could win a beauty pageant, and maybe she could. But she can be as tough as nails when she is carrying out her profession as a veterinarian.
Introduced on the Website yesterday, this vet, now based at Bargersville, Ind., works on horses, sheep, cattle and goats. She graduated from Michigan State University and thought she would specialize in horses, but right now, goats occupy a lot of her time. Many are owned by 4-H'ers.
Her biggest challenge turned out to be learning about goats before she could treat them effectively. She's also learned a lot about 4-H, and that has opened doors to educate kids.
"Younger generations really get a handle on animal science," she says. "When I do talks or lectures or demonstrations, they are amazed and awed at what seems to me like little things.
"It brings me back to how kids view the world, and sometimes as adults we forget that. Showing them a horse skull, my instruments and demo props truly gets them excited."
A 4-H leader helped Wilton make a plywood version of a sheep and goat so she could explain and demonstrate the birthing process. They cut a hole in it to pass a toy lamb through the birth canal, giving the kids a great visual.
"I want to inspire kids," she says. "I want them to be confident in the person they can become like my mom did for me. She saw the doctor she knew that I could be and continued to believe that for me even during the hard years – all the training."
Sometimes things don't work out like clients want. "In vet school they tell you that you must maintain a level of professionalism at all times, but sometimes, I cry right along with my clients," she says, "Their animals' problems become their problems. Animals can't tell you what's wrong, so we learn to be good listeners. It goes for listening to our clients too."
Long days tire her out. She decompresses riding her horse, and her husband, Glenn, encourages her.
Doc Wilton is grateful for those who paved the way. "I wasn't really afraid of entering or working in what had been a man's world. Women have tipped the scales in vet medicine and we are nurturers," she says. "I'm proud to be part of this."
McClain writes from Greenwood