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Utica Zoo visits HFM Vet and Animal Science program

A student pets a porcupine on a table as a zoo educator looks on

An HFM Career and Technical Center student pets a North American porcupine during a presentation by the Utica Zoo Nov. 7.

An educator from the Utica Zoo visited the HFM Career and Technical Center’s new Veterinary and Animal Science program teaching students about several different animals and career opportunities available in the animal care field.

Zoo Educator Nicolette Hajdasz visited juniors in the program Tuesday, Nov. 7. A 2011 graduate of New Hartford High School, Hajdasz attended the Veterinary  Science program at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES before earning her associate degree at Mohawk Valley Community College and beginning her career at the zoo.

“I’m so glad I went through the program,” Hajdasz told students explaining the hands-on internships she completed at BOCES including two at the Utica Zoo.

During the visit, students learned about and observed a rose hair tarantula, a cane toad, a Kenyan sand boa, a barred owl and a North American porcupine.

This is the first year for the HFM Veterinary and Animal Science program. The science-based, two-year program will prepare students for a variety of career opportunities teaching skills in areas such as animal handling, anatomy and physiology, grooming, pet first aid, health and disease, clinical practices, veterinary terminology and safety and sanitation. Possible career paths include animal caretaker, laboratory technician, shelter worker, biologist, groomer, kennel assistant, pet daycare provider, retail, professional breed/show handler, therapeutic pet handler, trainer, veterinarian, veterinary assistant, veterinary technician and zoologist.

A zoo educator holds an owl while wearing a glove and leash attached to the owl's leg in a classroom

Utica Zoo Educator Nicolette Hajdasz, a graduate of the Veterinary Science program at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, talks with students in the HFM Vet & Animal Science program Nov. 7.