Bamyan University invites Kentucky ADT Soldiers as guest lecturers

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Written by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs

U.S. Army Col. James Floyd, the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team veterinarian, asks Bamyan University animal science students to hold a goat cadaver and guess its age based on the length of its teeth. Floyd, of Shreveport, La., and other members of the ADT visited the university Aug. 23-26 to speak to the undergraduate students as guest lecturers. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs

BAMYAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan(September  7, 2010)–-With about 10 minutes left in the lecture, the scene is the same in most college classrooms: Notebooks are closed, backpacks zipped up, and eyes dart between the professor and the clock. However, the scene at Bamyan University is quite the opposite.

Half an hour after the lesson was over students were still engrossed in their lab, eagerly asking questions and even asking for additional reading material.

This probably had to do with a unique aspect of the lecture – their teacher was not wearing a coat and tie, but a U.S. Army uniform.

Members of the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team and the Cooperative Medical Assistance Team gave a series of guest lectures Aug. 23–26 to animal science students at Bamyan University.

“Veterinarians are animal scientists who just happen to be animal doctors. We wanted to provide lectures from a perspective they had never had before, using an approach they had never had before,” said U.S. Army Col. James Floyd, the team veterinarian for the Kentucky ADT.

In order to provide the fresh perspective and capture the students’ attention, Floyd started the series of lectures with a hands-on lesson. First, he used the traditional method of lecturing to a slideshow, teaching the students about the gastro-intestinal track.

Then, they were able to look at three goat cadavers to see what the organs actually looked like. The combination of lecture and lab was something Floyd thought would be new to the students and he was right, he said.

U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Miller, a veterinarian with the Cooperative Medical Assistance Team at Bagram Airfield, helps Bamyan University animal science students identify the vital organs in a goat cadaver at the university Aug. 23. Miller, whose home unit is in Round Rock, Texas, and members of the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team visited the university Aug. 23-26 to speak to the undergraduate students as guest lecturers. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

“Virtually every one of them had seen a goat slaughtered before. All had seen the guts, but none knew what the guts do. I thought that would be something we could use to draw them in. That’s why I wanted it in the beginning,” said Floyd.

After capturing the students attention on the first day, the team went on to cover other topics they thought were crucial to animal science. Some of the lectures included were animal husbandry, disease prevention and medical check-ups. However, the most important topic, one the speakers emphasized three out of the four days they taught, was nutrition.

“An animal that’s not fed well does not grow well and does not reproduce,” said Floyd. “Livestock are very important to the people of Afghanistan. They provide protein in the form of milk and meat,” Floyd added, explaining the crucial need for animal science.

The lectures at Bamyan University were not only unique for the students, but for the Soldiers as well. The ADT is usually out in the villages of Bamyan working directly with the farmers, while the CMAT is usually stationed at Bagram Airfield. So, lecturing at a university level was a first for them in Afghanistan, said Floyd.

The experience was especially rewarding for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Katherine Miles, a veterinary technician with the CMAT, who also taught during the dissection of the goats. Miles proved to be an essential mentor for the women in the class. As her hands gripped and pointed at the goats internal organs, the few female students eagerly crowded by her side, intently hanging on her every word.

“It was great to see they were so enthusiastic. They listened to what I had to say and asked questions,” said Miles. “They usually see us riding by and waving, but there is no interaction. There, we could interact and answer questions and help improve the health of the livestock.”

In defining the success of their efforts, Floyd said he didn’t think there really would be a “measurable outcome,” for the week of lectures. However, if he could have been an outsider looking on at the eager students who flocked around him as he made his way back to his vehicle, asking him for additional materials, he said he’d believe it was a total success.

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