Kids who love animals often dream of becoming a veterinarian someday. But like any career path, there is a lot of hard work that needs to happen – and for high schoolers, that can start with Career Technical Education (CTE) classes. Learn4Life, a network of high schools that focuses on at-risk, minority and low-income students, offers an array of CTE pathways that prepare students for high-wage, high-demand careers.

Learn4Life Vet Sciences students Cayla P. (left) and Lunden G. (right) learn how to be a vet with help from their pets, a German Shepherd Dog and cockatiel birds.

The Veterinary Science pathway is a tough, 30-week program but popular with Learn4Life students. The first 10 weeks covers Animal Biology, where students learn about cells, bacteria, mitosis, meiosis and body systems.

“I wanted them to learn how muscles, bones and tissues work together, so we all dissected chicken wings in our video classes,” teacher Janelle Skinner explained. “Then we dissected three of the four compartments of the ruminant digestive system. These hands-on activities allow students to see how all the body systems work together.”

Vet Pet is the second 10-week session, focusing on customer service and animal handling in a vet clinic. They learn about grooming, nutrition, and pet first aid, earning a Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid certification. Plus, students explore the vast number of pet and animal related careers.

In the final 10-week pathway, Vet Science students work towards their Elanco Veterinary Medical Applications Certification, an industry standard that demonstrates students’ competencies in veterinary terminology, animal welfare and behavior, veterinary medical practices, and anatomy and physiology. Learn4Life students demonstrate taking vitals, bandaging, giving injections and conducting clinical exams. They learn about hospital procedures, surgical procedures, laboratory procedures and pharmacology.

Skinner has seen kids blossom in CTE programs, like Lunden G., who was so quiet and shy when she first joined the Vet classes. “She was reluctant to even smile, but she soon began to have fun and form relationships with other students,” Skinner said. “All pets are welcome in class, so during our distance learning, we get to meet everyone’s dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, including Lunden’s cockatiels.”

February is CTE Month, celebrating the value of CTE classes that help high school graduates on their way to a high-demand, high-paying career. “It’s wonderful that high schoolers can gain this valuable knowledge and experience while earning their diploma,” Skinner said. “And we see that students enrolled in CTE pathways are more engaged and perform better in all their classes.”

Find out more about CTE pathways at Learn4Life.


Written By:
Ann Abajian
Antelope Valleycaprice youngCentral ValleyHigh DesertInland EmpireLos AngelesNorth CharlestonOxnardSacramentoSan DiegoSan Fernando Valleythrive global