The Club Animalia student organization at Hope College received multiple national honors during the annual symposium of the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (APVMA) earlier this month, including the organization’s top awards for both the club and one of its members.

animaliaThe club received the national “Outstanding Club Community Service Award” for the fourth consecutive year, and senior Chelsea Payne of Lorton, Virginia, received the Outstanding Senior Award, the sole recipient out of all APVMA members.  In addition, juniors Kim Hodgson of Caledonia and Bryce Talsma of Hudsonville received two of six APVMA Scholarship Awards, and Hodgson and Payne were also among the 10 nominees for the national Leadership Award presented by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges during the APVMA event.

The APVMA consists of 94 institutions, ranging from liberal arts colleges to comprehensive universities, and has nearly 2,000 student members from across North America.  The symposium was held on Friday-Saturday, March 11-12, at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, with more than 600 students from 54 colleges and universities attending.

The Hope group’s faculty advisor, Dr. Greg Fraley, noted that the breadth of interests and deep service focus of the student members helps the chapter stand out even among much larger such clubs—a reflection of the range of opportunities and commitment to service and engagement found at the college itself.

“Club Animalia is quite different from most other ‘pre-vet’ clubs in that our club members are not solely students interested in pre-veterinary medicine, but include a large diversity of students who all share a love for animals,” said Fraley, a professor of biology who is also one of three national advisors for the APVMA.  “As such, all of our members not only have a passion for learning about animals, but wish to share their passion and knowledge about animals with others.”

“Since our club members have a diversity of career paths, they bring a lot of different skill sets, disciplines, and solutions for getting a ‘job done,’” he said.  “Thus it is possible for a relatively small club to run several sustainable community service programs simultaneously.   Students in Club Animalia do not do community service to simply be able to check a box on a job or school application, but do so because they truly believe in the concept of a global community.”

The APVMA Outstanding Club Community Service Award is presented to a group that has been exceptional in promoting and stimulating interest in veterinary medicine within its community.  Club Animalia also received the Outstanding Club Community Service Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  The Oregon State University pre-vet club was also honored this year.

The APVMA Outstanding Senior Award recognizes one pre-veterinary student for accomplishments throughout his or her undergraduate career, including leadership, service and involvement in school and community activities.

The $500 APVMA Scholarship Award is the only monetary award presented by the APVMA, and is based on leadership, activities, and participation within the recipient’s local club and other school/community activities.

Club Animalia works to promote the human-animal bond on campus and throughout the greater Holland area, and to provide services to students in order to increase awareness and stimulate interest in careers related to animal care.  The group also provides voluntary services to those who work for the betterment of animals.  Club Animalia has about 30 active members, and hosts the college’s pre-veterinary students as well as many students interested in education and community service.

Club Animalia’s activities include a “Zoo 2 You” program through which members bring animals from the college’s Animal Museum to local elementary schools to teach about the natural history and life of wild animals; a veterinary science program through Ottawa County 4H that teaches middle school and high school students about animal husbandry and well-being, and veterinary medicine and careers; organizing, in collaboration with Hope’s Counseling and Psychological Services office, a “Finals Stress Release” on campus with therapy dogs; volunteering with the Harbor Humane Society; and numerous fund-raising events for charity.

Payne has served as Club Animalia’s historian (2013-14) and president (2015-16).  She is currently the secretary of the college’s chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and a member of Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society.  Her activities on campus include serving as an orientation assistant; working as an animal care taker in the Van Kley Science Museum and teaching assistant for the Department of Biology; participating in the Nykerk Cup competition; and playing flute in Hope's concert band.  She also does research with Fraley and Dr. Aaron Best, who is the Harrison c. and Mary L. Visscher Professor of Genetics at Hope, and has worked as a swim coach for Lorton Station Swim Team and as a tutor for local high school students. She is the daughter of Diana Payne of Lorton and Kevin Payne of Louisville, Kentucky, and a 2012 graduate of Hayfield Secondary School.  After she graduates in May with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minor in chemistry, she will be working at Hope as the Day 1: Watershed Lab Coordinator for the 2016-17 school year while she applies to veterinary school.

Hodgson is Club Animalia’s president this year and was vice president during 2014-15, and currently coordinates the “Zoo 2 You” outreach program.  Her activities at Hope have also included the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society; the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society; participating in research with Dr. Tyler Schwend, assistant professor of biology; working as an animal caretaker in the Van Kley Science Museum; and the college’s Nykerk Cup competition.  A biology major, she is the daughter of Dr. Richard and Dr. Jayne Hodgson of Caledonia, and a 2013 graduate of East Kentwood High School.

Talsma was Club Animalia’s secretary during the 2014-15 school year.  She spent this past fall semester studying overseas through the Creation Care: New Zealand program, and she also participated in the college’s Peace and Reconciliation Celtic May Term in 2014.  Her activities at Hope have also included serving as the founding president of the college’s club tennis team for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, and as a campus advocate for study abroad through the college’s Global Ambassador program. A biology major minoring in environmental studies, she is the daughter of Robb and Tamra Talsma of Hudsonville and a 2013 graduate of Hudsonville High School.