Local vet gives BOCES students info on farm animal care

GOSHEN. While some want to become a veterinarian themselves, some are more interested in related careers, like tech work, assistant care positions, grooming, or animal training.

| 24 Apr 2023 | 01:23

Banbury Cross Farm, located on Coleman Road in the Town of Goshen, was host to a group of Orange-Ulster BOCES students who wanted to learn more about farming, with a focus on the care of animals.

The 17 to 20 students who gathered about the guest speaker, veterinarian Megan Knoell, DVM, listened closely to what she had to say, and they asked many questions. Upon completion of undergraduate work, some of those who attended the talk want to enroll in vet school and become a veterinarian themselves, some are more interested in other careers related to the care of animals, like tech work, assistant care positions, grooming, or animal training.

“The opportunities in this field are huge,” Dr. Knoell told the group, as she relayed to them ways to learn more and become involved in veterinary science.

“Reach out and have hand-on experiences. Most vets are open to having a shadow as they work; then you can see first-hand the ins and outs of the job,” she advised, adding, “Be interactive. The more interactive you are, the more you’ll learn. Ask questions. Be engaged.”

Said Dr. Knoell, “I’m very impressed with this group of students; they asked lots of good questions, like how to get into vet school, what are the different avenues of veterinary medicine, and even wanting to know what are some of the pitfalls of being a vet.”

Megan Knoell recalls being a three-year old working on fixing her teddy bear, wanting to make him better. Her desire to help animals just grew stronger through her growing up years.

Crediting her parents for instilling the love of animals in her, she said,

“As a dairy farmer, my Dad worked with cows, but he always appreciated all animals, and my Mom showered lots of love on rescue animals needing love and care.”

But the one thing Megan found interesting was that no one in the family had an interest in horses. But she did. In fact, calling it “an obsession,” she went on it say, “It’s in your blood if you’re a horse person. I was so obsessed with them even having no experience or exposure to them.”

When her mom set up a job for her grooming horses and cleaning stalls at a neighbor’s place, Megan’s love of horses was cemented. “It was the best experience for me, being with the horses, working with them and learning a life lesson: farm work is hard work, as animals need to be cared for everyday of the week.” But she knew then that she was up to the task and wanted to be a vet.

After graduating from Goshen Central High School in 2007, Megan did her undergraduate work at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, where she earned a Bachelor of Environmental Science, with a major in Environmental Biology.

Describing ESF as “a small tight knit school,” she said this “hidden gem” was a fantastic experience. All of her professors were researchers and at the top of their fields, providing a great base for the next step in her career: veterinary school.

Attending The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree, Megan had courses in all types and facets of animal care, but with what is called “tracking,” she focused on equine studies, such as equine internal medicine and surgery. She graduated in 2015.

Dr. Knoell is devoted to horses and their care; for years she had two horses of her own that she rode for pleasure; as she says, “Just for fun.”

“I’m up to 10 horses now, with a mix of rescue horses, retired race horses, and two pregnant mares. Still whenever I can find the time, I trail ride and do a little dressage,” she noted.

In 2019, Dr. Knoell opened her veterinary practice, Knoell Equine in Goshen, on a part-time basis, and in Sept. 2022, she went full-time. The majority of what she does is care for horses; however, she also enjoys working with dogs, cats, goats, sheep, pot-belly pigs—what anyone has living on a farm.

“I’m being kept very busy, especially now that it’s Springtime. This is breeding season, as well as babies being born, and vaccines that need to be given. Also people are starting to spend more time with their horses, they’re back into riding,” said Megan.

What she calls the “neat part of her practice” is performing horse chiropractor care and administering acupuncture on all species, but mainly dogs, cats and horses.

“Horses are very responsive to this alternate care; many are so relaxed they just fall asleep,” she commented.

On occasion, Dr. Knoell addresses groups of young people, like Boy Scout troops and others to share knowledge on animal care. Calling this interaction “a very positive experience,” she added, “meeting with them is a nice way to interact with kids who are interested and want to know more—and are possibly interested in the profession.” She’s open to doing more group talks.

Maura Creeden, Work-Based Learning Coordinator at Orange-Ulster BOCES, commented, “Dr. Knoell’s talk was a “wonderful experience for the students,” explaining that there are 175 students enrolled in the Animal Science program, a two-year course of study at Orange-Ulster BOCES.

“It’s a popular program, with students from different school districts attending. It’s popular because everyone can relate to animals—so many people have, love, and care for animals,” said Creeden.