Sticking a hand into one of the fistulated cow’s stomachs is a highlight for Vetavision visitors and local media. Photo: Myrna MacDonald.

Vetavision a 45-year tradition at WCVM

One year after the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's new building officially opened in 1969, veterinary students were eager to open the college's doors to the public and share information about their new profession.

Inspired by the annual shows at other universities, the veterinary students developed the concept for Vetavision — veterinary medicine's version of a public open house.

The new show, which organizers decided to hold every three years, garnered widespread enthusiasm from WCVM students who were determined to make the project a success. With the support of WCVM Dean D.L.T. (Larry) Smith, the students chose Nov. 12-14, 1970, as the date for WCVM's inaugural Vetavision.

The students' leader was veterinary student Brian Svenson ("The Boss") of High River, Alta., a member of the WCVM's Class of 1971 and the college's first Vetavision co-ordinator. Planning for the first show began in 1968 and soon involved the entire school body. Students organized activities, displays, talks and tours that would catch the public's attention. WCVM faculty also contributed space, equipment, funds and advice — but the students made all of the major decisions since Vetavision was their brainchild.

Through the efforts of Svenson and his representatives who had promoted Vetavision at veterinary conventions across Canada, the first WCVM open house was an outstanding success that attracted thousands of people and students from all over Western Canada. From the always-popular Kiddies' Korral and tours of the microbiology labs to an impressive reconstruction of a rearing horse's skeleton, Vetavision offered information and activities that interested people of all ages.

But it was the students' enthusiasm for their profession that many visitors considered to be the most impressive aspect of Vetavision. Always on hand and and eager to answer questions, the students' knowledge and willingness to engage the public resulted in the success of Vetavision and cemented it as one of the WCVM's most important community relations efforts for many decades to come.

Forty-five years later, WCVM students are preparing to host the 2015 version of Vetavision from Oct. 2-3 at the veterinary college on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Visitors of all ages will have the chance to explore the WCVM's facilities and learn more about all aspects of the veterinary profession through a variety of demonstrations, tours, talks, activities and displays.

Organizers will also host a pre-veterinary night on Sat., Oct. 3, for high school and university students — Western Canada's next generation of veterinary students. For more information, visit vetavision.ca.

Source: WCVM: The First Decade and More by Christopher H. Bigland. Visit www.usask.ca/wcvm/fifty-years
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