The Center specializes in sustained, multi-session elementary and middle school science education, with a focus on a STEM science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. Here at the center, we know that all four of these problem solving disciplines are necessary for day-to-day life in veterinary medicine. It is our goal to teach the students that come to us about how we use these fields, how they are important in veterinary medicine, and how they can be used in almost any profession in the world. We emphasize and implement the scientific method in our programs.
Kingston Public Library: The Wonders of Wildlife
A virtual after-school session for middle school students and their families. This program is designed to supplement their in-school science education. In this program, students help deliver “dinner” to three patients in our hospital (a swan, an opossum, and a box turtle) while learning about the natural history and biology of each species. By learning the types of food that each of the animals eats, helps students understand the relationship of food to the habitat in which they live. Students also learn the common reasons animals come into our hospitals and the things that they can do at home, with their families, to help keep wildlife safe.
Eagle Brook School: Cellular Biology and Comparative Anatomy of Blood Cells
Eagle Brook School is an international boarding school located in Deerfield, Massachusetts. During COVID-19 some of the students and instructors are living at the school and some are living at home and learning virtually. Currently, the 9th grade science class is starting a unit on cellular biology. The instructors requested a program that would help make some of the concepts they were teaching in the classroom come to life for their students. Last week we delivered a program that put students in the driver’s seat as New England Wildlife Centers’ staff worked to diagnose a swan using a blood sample. We started by introducing the requested concepts through a short PowerPoint presentation and then asked students to apply the concepts and help guide our veterinary team to a diagnosis. In the process, we were able to show students the difference between mammal and avian blood, see the different types of immune cells that exist in our own bodies, and show them what the constituent parts of blood can tell us about an animal’s health. The program received wonderful feedback and we are working to set-up an extended five-session program for later this year that will help expand on this topic.
Community Connections: Wildlife Wednesdays
Community Connections is an organization that provides day habilitation, life skills, and employment training to people with disabilities at eight locations in Massachusetts. This winter we will be partnering with them to bring regular education programming to a sub-set of their clients who will be learning remotely. The topics will vary each month and will focus on wildlife and science education. We will focus the topics on areas that compliment their interests and help develop skills they are working on in their individual programs. The program will kick-off this December with a session about owls and bird care in Massachusetts!
Transitions Centers: Virtual Volunteering
The Transitions Centers provide day and employment services to individuals, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, social anxiety, and other life challenges, who are working to transition to a life with greater independence. This group regularly volunteers at our Cape hospital and uses the program to hone their workplace skills. During COVID-19 they are unable to visit in person, so we will be providing a virtual program focused on animal care and the types of skills that go into caring for animals.
New York Bar Association: Current Topics and Issues Surrounding Wildlife Care in Massachusetts
In February we will be hosting a virtual program for the New York State Bar Association’s sub-committee on Animal Welfare. This group has expressed interest in learning about the day-to-day operations of a working wildlife hospital and some of the legal and operational challenges we deal with. We will be showing them live patient care, discussing some of the drivers of admissions to our hospitals, going over common wildlife related crimes we assist law enforcement with, and discussing some of the legal initiatives we are currently working on to help improve the quality of wildlife care in Massachusetts.
Neighborhood House Charter School: Bats, Rats, and Cockroaches
The Neighborhood House Charter School is a K-12 charter school located in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Over the last 3 years we have developed a wonderful working relationship with their students and teachers and regularly provide science education programming. This year has been especially difficult for both the students and teachers, as they have had to switch back and forth between in-person and virtual learning. This is compounded by the fact they are located in an underserved school district and not all students have equal access to learning resources. When COVID-19 started, we were able to quickly produce some pre-recorded digital content for them so that students and their families could access it in their own time frame, helping to overcome some of the challenges. The latest program we provided is called “Bats, Rats, and Cockroaches” and was designed around a book the 5th grade was reading in English class. We used this opportunity to teach kids the science behind flight, adaptions of rodents, and why cockroaches are so good at surviving! We also talked about the connection between bats and COVID-19 and helped students better understand current events taking place in the world. We will continue to work with them, as needed, throughout this year.
Wareham Land Trust: Wildlife of Wareham
Zak Mertz, Executive Director of our Cape facility, was recently the keynote speaker for the Wareham Land Trust and spoke about the localized issues that wildlife face in Wareham, Massachusetts. We were able to use data collected at both of our hospitals to reveal the most common reasons we see wildlife from Wareham and even which parts of town we are more likely to get patients from. Zak also spoke about a few of the common issues facing wildlife statewide such as lead poisoning, rodenticide toxicity, and car-strikes. We will continue to consult with the Wareham Land Trust on wildlife topics on their properties.
Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical Highschool: Advisory board members and free programming for the Veterinary technology concentration
Last school year we helped the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School pilot their Veterinary Science tract. This program offers students the opportunity to major in veterinary science as a vocational tract at Upper Cape Tech. Dr. Priya Patel and Zak Mertz joined the advisory board for this program and actively work with instructors and students to provide guidance, lectures, and hands-on learning opportunities. We are entering the second year of this new program, and we expect that NEWCS will play an even larger role as the inaugural class reaches their junior and senior year. We are currently working to set-up some virtual programming for the beginning of their second semester that will help reinforce classroom concepts as skill sets.
Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Massachusetts (WRAM): Continuing Education for Wildlife Rehabilitators
Dr. Patel and Zak Mertz currently serve as Board Members for WRAM. As part of this commitment, they each deliver several lectures and lab sessions every year to further the education of licensed rehabilitators in Massachusetts. Each of these sessions is certified for 3 continuing education credits and counts towards the state’s CE requirements. Most recently, Dr. Patel gave a lecture on turtle stabilization, treatment, and repair. Zak gave a lecture on best practices of phone answering and communicating with members of the public regarding wildlife.