FRC president organizes college partnership for equine program

Rebecca Saam, a second-year veterinary technician student at Yuba College, examines Rowdy, one of Feather River College’s 2-year-old horses. FRC’s new superintendent and president, Dr. Kevin Trutna, set up the collaboration between Yuba College’s vet tech program and FRC’s equine program. Photo by Carolyn Carter
Carolyn Carter

  Dr. Kevin Trutna is taking his new position as president of Feather River College in stride. Right out of the gate Trutna has orchestrated a collaboration between FRC’s equine program and Yuba College’s veterinary technician program.

  Trutna spent 14 years with Yuba College before getting hired at FRC. In those years he said he helped the growth of the college’s vet tech program and he knew the vet program inside and out. When he made the transition to FRC he saw a potential for a perfect marriage between Yuba College’s program and Feather River’s equine program.

  “Yuba College had a hard time of getting real-world experience with large animals,” Trutna said. “Once I came up here and I saw the incredible program I thought it’d be a great opportunity to collaborate the two programs together.”

  On Wednesday, April 17, Yuba College students spent the day working with and diagnosing FRC’s horses. With around 200 horses in the herd, FRC horses can have a wide variety of ailments from lameness to sickness to newborn baby checkups.

  “Our students had to work alongside the vets and explain what was wrong with their horse. It puts them in that ownership role,” said Trutna.

  Dr. Scott Haskell is the director of the two-year program at Yuba College. He said the access to a large herd of horses is a great learning opportunity for his students. Often they go out to a place that may only have one or two horses. He said the different varieties in the horses’ ages and issues that need to be diagnosed are great tools for teaching husbandry, restraint and management to his students.

  Trutna said community colleges do not often partner up like this. He said he saw a need for both the colleges and as they are two completely different programs there aren’t any recruiting wars, just an efficient use of both colleges resources.

  “I think this collaboration is really important. It went really well,” said FRC’s equine program director, Russell Reid. “We don’t have the resources and skills to do what they do, but they don’t have the horses. The academic intellectual sharing back and forth is critical for us.”

  Both Reid and Haskell mentioned the potential for an ongoing partnership between the two colleges. They said they will be discussing the idea of setting up a five-week summer program at FRC for the vet students, as well as continuing to host Yuba College monthly.

  “I think it is great,” said Yuba College student Tanya Harbison. “This gives us a lot more hands-on opportunities with large animals that we wouldn’t be able to do normally.”

  “The bottom line is it’s for the students,” said Trutna. “I saw that the two programs both had a need.”

       “We really strive to give our students many opportunities for learning. This is an opportunity. When (Haskell) is teaching his students, he’s teaching our students,”

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