Tennessee Tech News

Agriculture students get perspective on industry, education in Dominican Republic

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Katelynn Cammack, an agriculture education major, gets a closer look at animal care and rehabilitation practices at a zoo in the Dominican Republic.

Published Thursday Feb 15, 2018

A group of students from Tennessee Tech’s School of Agriculture got a different perspective on animal care, agriculture and education during a recent service learning trip to the Dominican Republic.

The students traveled with Professor Pat Bagley and Assistant Director of International Education Amy Miller to Santo Domingo where they visited the national zoo, fresh food markets, a sugar mill and schools for economically disadvantaged children.

At the national zoo, students, including a number of pre-veterinary students, got a behind-the-scenes look at the way animals are cared for.

“I was especially interested in the set-up of multi-species habitats, where multiple animals were housed in the same enclosure that was set up to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible,” said animal science major Rachel Ledbetter.

The students also got to see a toucan that was at the zoo for care for a broken beak and a number of native birds under rehabilitation.

“It really made me think about the differences with our zoos here,” Ledbetter said. “There were a lot of similarities, but it really stood out to me that so many of the animals that were there were native to the area and would eventually be released back to the wild.”

While exploring the country’s history with sugar production in the country, students visited a sugar mill that focused on sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

“They are on a relatively small island, so they really have to be conscious of sustainable practices to be able to keep their agricultural industries alive,” said Katelynn Cammack, an agriculture education major.

While visiting the local schools, the Tech students helped continue work of the Santo Domingo Rotary Club. The club worked with seven Rotary Clubs from Tennessee and one in Florida to provide water purification systems, batteries, roofing materials, desks, chairs and other classroom supplies to the schools.

“Visiting the schools and meeting the kids was the best part for me,” said Cammack. “Those schools were a bright spot in the communities, a place the children looked forward to going, a place they could feel secure and supported, just everything a school really should be.”

At the schools they visited, the Tech students also took more than 80 pounds of crayons donated by the Cookeville Lawyer Association, along with books, coloring books, toys and games they collected.

“I learned a lot about the agriculture there as well, but seeing the way those children responded to us in the schools just made me really appreciate the entire process of education as a whole,” Cammack said.

Now back on campus for the Spring semester, both Cammack and Ledbetter says they are looking forward to other study abroad opportunities the university has to offer.

“I just learned and did so much, I wouldn’t hesitate to go again,” Ledbetter said.

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