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First-year veterinary student Christopher Jermey and three of his classmates (l to r): Oliva Rad, Isabell Stamm and Kylie Cousins. Photo: Christina Weese.

Manitoba vet student following in mother’s footsteps

First-year veterinary student Chris Jermey has been shadowing a veterinarian since he was a baby. Early pictures show him sitting in a stroller watching his mother, Dr. Helen Metner-Jermey, at work on farm calls for her large animal ambulatory practice in Moosehorn, Man.

As he grew older, Jermey assisted his mom — a 1986 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) — on her calls and helped her treat the family’s beef cattle. By the time he was in high school, he knew that he wanted to follow in her footsteps. In August, Jermey began the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the WCVM — his mother’s alma mater.

“One thing that really stuck with me was how much of a positive impact she had on our area,” says Jermey. “I worked at the local Co-op throughout high school, and I was inspired by the number of farmers who spoke so highly of her work and the way she improved livestock welfare in the area.”

Jermey was involved with pets and farm animals throughout his childhood. He’d begun building his own purebred Aberdeen angus herd by the time he started school, and each spring his parents rewarded his school performance with a heifer.

“My favourite time of the year is still calving season,” says Jermey. “Getting to see the new calf crop and then see how they grow and develop through the summer — it’s one of the most rewarding experiences.”

At a young age, Jermey joined the Canadian Junior Angus Association and travelled across Canada exhibiting his cattle and participating in public speaking competitions as well as art, literature and print marketing.

As a member of the local 4-H beef club, Jermey continued honing his public speaking skills and participated in achievement days and provincial events such as Stockfest and Funfest. He also joined the multi-purpose 4-H club and took part in projects involving outdoor living and small animal care.

“These organizations really developed my communication skills, both on an individual basis and through public speaking,” says Jermey. “They also helped instill a passion for raising quality livestock and a sense of community and industry involvement that still motivates and inspires me.”

In addition to his club involvement and his work with livestock on the family farm, Jermey found an unusual hobby. “We do a bit of logging every winter on the farm, and so I started doing some chainsaw carving as a way to kill time,” Jermey explains. “As I got more involved, I realized I really enjoyed it. My favorite part is how relaxing it is. You just get into a rhythm and watch something take shape — it’s a great way to clear the mind.”

While his favourite carvings are those of owls and bears, Jermey donated one of his better pieces, an angus bull, to a Canadian Junior Angus fundraising auction, and it was purchased by a well-known angus breeder in Ohio. Vet school assignments and studying now take up most of Jermey’s spare time, but he plans to continue working on his chainsaw carvings whenever he gets the chance.

When Jermey moved to Winnipeg for university, he began volunteering at Catrysse Veterinary Services in order to get some experience working with small animals. Jermey greatly appreciated the help he received from Dr. Noel Catrysse (WCVM ’76) and his staff.

“My hours spent with the Catrysse team were some of my favourite during my undergrad [program],” recalls Jermey. “They really took the time to show and explain exactly what they were doing. The time I spent in their clinic kept me motivated through all the long hours in the library.”

Now that Jermey has begun his first year as a veterinary student at the WCVM, he appreciates all the help and opportunities for growth that he received over the years — especially those early experiences with his mother who now works for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

While Jermey envisions a career that involves large animal medicine, particularly beef cattle, his ideal situation would be a rural mixed animal practice and perhaps a future specialization in bovine reproduction.

“I’d like to serve a community very similar to the one I grew up in. I love working with cattle, and the friendliness and spirit of rural communities really draws me in,” says Jermey. “But getting my DVM [degree] is just the start of my education — I see a huge benefit in working with experienced mentors who will continue to provide learning opportunities.”

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