By Maggie Berger
Students at Texas A&M University are required to take a certain number of core credits regardless of their major. Six of those credit hours must be classes that fall under the category of International and Cultural Diversity (ICD).
Characteristically these credits are usually obtained through anthropology, history or gender studies classes, for example. Beginning in the fall of 2014, students will have a new option. The Department of Animal Science will offer its first ICD course. Dr. Clay Cavinder, associate professor of equine science, has developed ANSC 431, Equine Marketing and Development, to serve this purpose. It will be one of seven ICD courses offered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
In the fall of 2011, Cavinder began teaching Equine Marketing and Development as ANSC 489, which has now been converted to 431 to include the ICD component. The basics of the class will focus on the history of equine transportation and things that go along with this. A large portion of equine transportation happens internationally, which is how the class was able to achieve ICD status.
“One of the biggest reasons I created the class was to give the students some perspective on things that we do not currently teach,” Cavinder said. This course is the only course of its kind; no other university offers anything like it.
Going hand-in-hand with transportation, the course will cover such topics as stress factors involved with travel, documentation requirements for domestic and international travel, illnesses and diseases, welfare issues, and more. The class also boasts numerous guest speakers, which serve a two-fold purpose, to have experts talk about their respective fields and to introduce students to the variety of job opportunities available in the equine industry.
“We get so many students that come in and say they want to be a veterinarian or horse trainer, but they really don’t know of all the career opportunities there are out there,” said Cavinder. “This class should give them perspective on some other entrepreneurial or internship options to give them an opportunity to see what they may want to do with their future.”
While planning the class and talking to guest speakers and industry professionals, internship opportunities for students started to evolve, some of which Texas A&M students have already taken. For example, students have had the opportunity to go on trips with horses to Amsterdam. During the trips, students fly with the horses and are responsible for their general care. Throughout the flight they make sure the horses have water and during take-off and landing, students stand with the horses to try to keep them calm. Opportunities like this would not have been available to students if not for this class.
Another unique aspect of the class is the implementation of field trips. Every year the class goes on a field trip to the USDA quarantine facility at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. This is where horses are inspected and quarantined before they can fly. Students have the opportunity to meet veterinarians, inspectors, horse importers and exporters, and get to see everything except the horses being loaded on the planes.
Those who took the class as ANSC 489 enjoyed it and recommend it to students with any interest in the equine industry. Because of its real world implications and topics, the class is applicable to horse owners and those who want to work in the industry.
“The class really gave me a lot of insight into so many different aspects of the equine industry,” said Courtney Phillips, a graduate student studying equine exercise and physiology. Phillips took the class the first time it was offered in the fall of 2011.
“I think it will be useful in my future career. The variety of topics makes it very applicable. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in horses,” she said.
Students interested in taking this course in the fall of 2014 will register this coming spring and should contact Cavinder at email@example.com for more information or questions.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.