A group of students lined up before the Hereford calf on Bryan Lawrence’s Baldwin Township farm.
Some held syringes. Others had ear tags. Some held a branding tool inked up with a green dye ready to permanently record the animal’s registration number inside its ear.
If you didn’t know better, you’d say a group of young veterinarians were visiting the Lawrence farm that morning. And someday those students just might be veterinarians.
But on Thursday, Feb. 16 they were students taking in a slice of the real world through Kristy Storbakken’s college animal science class.
Storbakken’s class is an alternative to high school programs and is preparing the students for junior college or four-year colleges, she said.
It’s a class sanctioned by the University of Minnesota in which the students become actual college students who are enrolled at the U of M, earn actual college credits and enjoy all the benefits that being a University of Minnesota student presents them.
Storbakken was trained for the class by the University of Minnesota. The class, taught at Princeton High School, is primarily lecture-based and the students’ high-priced college textbooks are purchased by the school district.
The students also go to the University’s St. Paul campus for a day of learning.
“We set up several labs and students get to use equipment they normally wouldn’t have access to,” Storbakken said.
But another important aspect of the student’s education came last Thursday on the Lawrence farm where the students learned firsthand about veterinary sciences and judging cattle.
“This is a unique situation,” Lawrence said. “They are able to get some real hands-on training.”
There is no doubt that the students had quite an experience on the Lawrence farm.
Lawrence showed students how to properly insert a needle into the back of a cow — near the shoulder blade — in order to vaccinate it. He taught the students how to treat the animals for a lice-like parasite. And like piercing an ear at a shopping mall jewelry store, Lawrence showed the students how to apply ear tags.
“This is a great opportunity for them to experience some of the processes used in the animal sciences,” Lawrence said.
Through the course of the semester the students learn about nutrition, reproduction and genetics in livestock animals,” Storbakken said.
The students participate in one weekly lab. A recent lab consisted of working in the area of animal behavior and the principles of training dogs.
The college-level class is one of four such animal-related classes taught at Princeton High School.
The school also offers a veterinary sciences class, a class studying companion animals and an intro to animal science class.
The college-level class presents a great opportunity for the students, Storbakken said.
“Some students go onto college in the medical field — either animal or human,” she said.
“A lot of the students go on to explore veterinary careers. Some students take the class because they want to earn the college credits,” Storbakken said. “Some students come from farming backgrounds and apply the knowledge they learn on the family farm.”
Storbakken would like to see the animal sciences program grow in the future.
With more and more horses being raised in the Princeton area, she would particularly like to see an equine sciences class offered at PHS.
“We’re seeing more horses in the community and we should be meeting the needs of the interests in the community,” she said.
With registration for fall classes right around the corner, Storbakken hopes that students and their parents plan for the future and enroll in her college animal science class, a class that can save a family big money in the future when a student goes off to college.
The requirements: “A student must be a junior or a senior, be in the top 50 percent of their class and have a desire to learn,” Storbakken said.
Going to college never seemed so easy.