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Getting up close, personal with a college farm

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At Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus farm, there are almost 30 sheep, two dozen cows, five alpacas, three rabbits, two goats, a horse, some chickens, and a group of dogs and cats at a next door kennel.

No, there’s no ark being built. These are the animals that students care for as part of their learning within the Veterinary Technology and Biology and Management of Zoo Animals programs at Rock Creek (17705 N.W. Springville Road). The relationship between students and the animals is one of mutual benefit that gives them access to a living farm right on campus and provides opportunities to rescue and serve animals of all kinds.

Left to right, Dolores Galindo, Vet Tech instructional support technician, and Brad Krohn, instructor, talk goats at the Rock Creek campus Farm.

Left to right, Dolores Galindo, Vet Tech instructional support technician, and Brad Krohn, instructor, talk goats at the Rock Creek campus Farm.

“Being able to work with animals hands on is really important because there are a lot of different behaviors you can learn about,” said Ann Lauerman, a student in the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals Program, or known as BAMZA. “With Rock Creek having the farm animals it has been extremely helpful and ties in with what we’re learning in the classrooms. It’s a great way to really learn the skills.”

Lauerman recently finished an internship at the Oregon Zoo and a stint training alpacas at the farm, which has allowed other students to apply halters without spooking them.

“We’re desensitizing them to our presence,” Lauerman added. “We use positive reinforcement training so they are less stressful when they are taken out of their comfort zone in the barn. It’s especially important to keep those stress levels down.”

In fall of 2012, the college launched the two-year associate of applied science degree in Biology and Management of Zoo Animals. It is a partnership with the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University. The program is one of six in the U.S. and the only one in the Northwest.

“Our community partners provide opportunities for on-site experience and the mentors at these facilities who work with our students are among the best in the country,” said Joyce Kaplan, BAMZA faculty chair.

The Veterinary Technology Program is the only program of its kind in the state of Oregon (one of four in the Northwest) and prepares students to become certified veterinary technicians and to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam. The two Rock Creek training programs share the resources at the college’s farm to integrate student learning and hands-on training.

Left to right, BAMZA students Ann Lauerman and Alisha Harvey with new lambs.

Left to right, BAMZA students Ann Lauerman and Alisha Harvey with new lambs.

“There has been good sharing of resources, including college-owned animals, between the Veterinary Technology Program and the new BAMZA Program,” said Dr. Brad Krohn, licensed veterinarian and PCC instructor. “BAMZA students have been able to learn behavioral enrichment techniques with animals as diverse as freshwater fish, rodents and alpacas. BAMZA students were able to complete an entire course dedicated to the water quality management of zoo animals using college-owned fish and aquaria. To our knowledge, this is the only course of its kind offered in such a training program.”

The Vet Tech Program rescues a group of dogs, cats, and lab animals from local shelters at the start of the year for students to provide daily care, exercise and assist with medical procedures to keep them healthy. Students also clean the on-site kennel, organize animal feedings and participate in farm activities like the popular lamb watch. This is where groups of three students take shifts to watch for potential births in the barn among the farm’s sheep and keep detailed logs of their behavior and care. In addition to their program work, students fund raise and lend their expertise to local nonprofits.

“We have applicants to the program from all over the United States,” Krohn added. “Animals serve student learning in so many ways at PCC – from reinforcing basic anatomy and physiology skills, to learning safe handling, husbandry and nursing techniques, to more advanced techniques such as radiography and dentistry. PCC’s diversity of on-campus animals and the presence of a fully operational farm provides a unique hands-on exposure and full immersion into small animal medicine, large animal medicine and agriculture. This really helps define the program as one of the most elite and successful training programs in the country.”

  • Left to right, Dolores Galindo, Vet Tech instructional support technician, and Brad Krohn, instructor, talk goats at the Rock Creek campus Farm.
  • Left to right, BAMZA students Ann Lauerman and Alisha Harvey with new lambs.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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Sorry, but the comments have been closed. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by Djambel Unkov 3 years ago

I have a black and white photo of the Llama you might like.

x by Anita Kishna 3 years ago

I noted that you only have one horse. Please give this horse the companionship of another horse or a few more horses. We are pass the stage where animals feelings are not considered. We know in our hearts and minds that they are sentient beings capable to feeling different emotions just like humans. I ask you to please consider this request quickly. Thank you so much!

x by Kim Dukes 3 years ago

The lovely Horse is Emmy Lou. She is a dear old lady. At over 20 yrs old she’s a grand Quarter horse. I love heading over there to say hello to her. She has a bull shares her space outside with her. They get along great and keep each other company. I do agree that it might be a tad lonely for the old girl. You should come by and see her. She loves talking with people and being brushed. Her diet is strictly monitored as is her exercise.
Terry is Rock Creek Farm Guy. If he’s around he loves chatting with people that are truly interested in the Farm and its awesome Animals.

Kim Dukes Sustainability Assistant for Student Government 2008-2009
and a Very Concerned Citizen when it comes to Rock Creek.

x by Simone M 3 years ago

We do love our program horse Pacto dearly and all spend many hours giving him the best enrichment.We are also very excited that soon we will be adding another horse to our pasture, so that Pacto can have the companionship of his own kind. It is very important that we find a horse that is compatible with our handsome man, we always keep his, and all our program animals needs a priority. If you have any questions about the awesome Vet Tech program please come ask, we love sharing our experiences and we will talk your ear off about our wonderful animals at PCC. Yay Vet Texh Program!

x by Sharon Morse 3 years ago

Great article and a great program. Are the goats for rent? Do you know of any goats to take care of mostly grass and some Blackberry on about 2 acres? Thanks.

x by James Hill 3 years ago

Hi Sharon, I don’t think The Farm rents out the goats for that purpose but please check with the farm’s coordinator, Terry:

x by Charlie W. 3 years ago

I love visiting Rock Creek and their furry family, but I’m confused is the horse “a dear old lady” named Emmy Lou? Or, a “handsome man” name Pacto?

x by Pogo 3 years ago

Charlie, I also noticed that discrepancy! Seems like we have a storyteller in our midst?! Very odd.

x by Simone M 3 years ago

Our current program horse is our handsome Pasafino Pacto. Emmy unfortunately passed on last summer. :,(

x by Melissa D 3 years ago

Great article! We are so fortunate to have Vet Tech and BAMZA on our campus.

x by Adnew 3 years ago

Great, I grew up in the biggest farm and love animals so I’m so glad to hear this opportunity PCC gives and this will be my First choice to study soon about veterinary Technology and Biology.

x by Russell 3 years ago

I worked in the Rock Creek Grounds Dept for several years before moving to Sylvania. It was such a joy to arrive each day and see the many animals at the Farm. During lambing and calving season, it was exciting to welcome new faces to the flock/herd. Come soon and see the legendary Lamb Races, the daily Dog Parade, see cats in their natural environment at the Cat Viewing Window, see the World’s Fastest Jersey Cow or visit with Terry the Farm Manager and his canine companions, Billy and Ernie.

x by Kim 3 years ago

NOOOOO…. not Emmy…. may she enjoy the green pastures that she now is young again in.

She was a great horse. I will try to come by and meet the handsome male.

x by Barbara Linn 3 years ago

When I started at PCC in 2009 and first came to the Rock Creek campus I could not believe my good fortune at being assigned to work on the westside campus. I loved to start my day with a greeting from the animals. They helped me think through many planning challenges on the campus. The animals are a key part of the Rock Creek persona.

x by Laura Ohler 3 years ago

In 1979 I took a sheep management class at PCC Rock Creek. For trimming the sheeps feet at that time they put a steel grate in the winter barn, when the sheep walked on it to get fed their feet were trimmed a little every day. The urine and pooh fell through the holes in the grate and then in the spring they would lift up the grate with a tractor or bulldozer and use the manure for gardening. I am wondering if you still use that system or if you are doing something else. We will soon be building a shelter for our alpacas and I thought maybe we could use that system. Please let me know at your convenience. Thankyou, Laura OHler


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