A Partnership in Education and Philanthropy

At its best, philanthropy cultivates partnerships between different groups and organizations to further a common goal. The partnership between TVMF and Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMU-K) is a great example of how philanthropy works in multiple facets within the veterinary field.

“As any type of animal program can often be misunderstood, fostering goodwill within the community is essential to the reputation of a program and to the overall success of our students within that program,” said Christine Hoskinson, LVT, MS, TAMU-K’s Assistant Director of Veterinary Technology.

TAMU-K began participating in the LEAP program in 2022. Since then, each month they have served three companion animals belonging to Kingsville’s homebound and economically disadvantaged senior citizens. The veterinary care provided for LEAP at TAMU-K is largely provided by the students in the veterinary technology program. These students are overseen by licensed veterinary professionals and veterinarians and given hands-on practice to grow their skillsets as veterinary paraprofessionals.

Headed by Hoskinson, the LEAP partnership with TAMU-K provides benefits that are two-fold to pet owners and students.

“On one hand, the satisfaction and gratefulness the clients express is really touching,” Hoskinson said. “And on the other, the positive feedback we have had from students has reinforced the importance of client communication and having an opportunity to practice those skills to build confidence.”

Alayna Pexton, a TAMU-K student and future Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), commends the hands-on and owner-centric experience that LEAP provides her and her classmates. 

“This program has really helped with our confidence in what we have learned and being able to apply it in a variety of settings,” Pexton said. “We get a lot of experience working with the dogs and cats in our facility, but going out into the community gives us more real-world situations and practice.”

Hoskinson has witnessed the power of experiential learning among her students. 

“For our students to have an opportunity to speak with clients and be part of the local community is priceless,” she said. “It is an opportunity that brings together years of learning and practice to facilitate the care of patients and communication with clients, something that can be difficult to replicate in an academic program.”

Among many things, the veterinary technology students learn communication skills, animal handling, wellness skills, time management and professionalism. Additionally, students are educated with a kindhearted approach to helping both animals and people, and LEAP provides them an avenue to be both an advocate and a lending hand in their community.

“We are so proud of the selfless, service-minded veterinary technology students we have at Texas A&M University-Kingsville,” said Dr. Shad D. Nelson, Dean of the Dick and Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The LEAP initiative helps to address both the animal and the human relations side that are critical to healthy communities. The faculty and student participants of the Veterinary Technology LEAP program at TAMU-K are positively enhancing the quality of life for our community members that we are committed to serve.”

TVMF is grateful for a partnership with TAMU-K, expanding and enhancing philanthropy within the field of veterinary medicine.