Sarah Hurley, CVT: Volunteerism Defined

by Erin Spencer, CVT, VTS (ECC)

January 7, 2013

Sarah Hurley, CVT
Long-time HSVMA-RAVS volunteer Sarah Hurley, CVT.
Sarah Hurley

There is not much that Sarah Hurley has not done as a veterinary technician. From wildlife rehabilitation to developing pet first aid courses for the American Red Cross, she has been a part of it all. For the past 10 years, Sarah has been a committed volunteer for the HSVMA-RAVS program, generously donating her time and expertise on more than 40 field clinics at more than19 different reservations and rural Appalachian communities.

Growing up, Sarah formed tight emotional ties to her animal family members and gained so much from these relationships that she set herself on a career course that would allow her to give back to all species of animals. While Sarah’s original plan was to become a zookeeper, she found it difficult to break into the field. While waiting for a job to open up at the local zoo, she took a job at a humane society, which led to her interest in veterinary medicine and her degree in veterinary technology. Since completing her degree, Sarah has worked as a Certified Veterinary Technician in private practice, academia, and shelter medicine.

Thinking Outside the Box

Innovation is a hallmark of successful veterinary fieldwork and a valuable asset in a volunteer. Sarah’s creative inventions combined with her depth of experience have helped to streamline the RAVS anesthesia induction process and enhanced her students’ learning experiences. Sarah’s anesthesia station can always be identified by the extra tools that she brings with her to each clinic; from paper towel holders and endotracheal tube racks positioned for ease of access, to a urine collection system that fits perfectly into the induction table, Sarah definitely has an eye for figuring out what is needed to create the ultimate in efficient systems.

A Desire to Help Others

Students who work with Sarah benefit from her 30-plus years of experience in the veterinary field, as well as her good-natured personality and endless patience, which make her such an excellent teacher. Sarah not only shares her knowledge with students on the two-to-five weeks per year that she spends volunteering with HSVMA-RAVS, but in her current position as an instructor at Parkland College’s Veterinary Technician Program in Champaign, Ill. Sarah explains that she enjoys teaching because "as an instructor, I am not only able to help animals directly, but also indirectly through mentoring students, who will be future caregivers."

Sarah also volunteers with a number of local animal welfare organizations, as a zookeeper at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Ill., as a Master Naturalist at Allerton Park in Monticello, Ill., and as a research assistant with various field research projects throughout the world. This past summer, Sarah traveled to the Crocodile Bank in Chennai, India where she was involved in research and breeding projects for a variety of endangered chelonians and crocodilians. Although Sarah is a relied-upon volunteer for a number of organizations, she is perhaps best known for her role with the Champaign County Humane Society Giant Garage Sale. This annual fundraiser takes place on Memorial Day weekend and raises tens of thousands of dollars for the organization.

Sarah Hurley intubates a puppy
Hurley intubates a canine patient while a veterinary student monitors the patient under anesthesia at an HSVMA-RAVS clinic.

Always Learning and Giving

With her busy schedule, what keeps Sarah coming back to HSVMA-RAVS field clinics year after year? Sarah likens her time in the field to "summer camp for veterinary professionals," where she gets to travel to interesting places and catch up with friends she does not get to see on a regular basis. She also looks forward to learning new things every trip; with professionals from all over the country coming together in one location to volunteer their time, everyone is exposed to new skills and approaches.

In Sarah’s eyes, the biggest advantage of long-term volunteerism is the satisfaction in seeing that there is progress being made in the communities visited by HSVMA-RAVS. Visiting the same communities year after year and helping provide the only veterinary care that many of the animals receive allows a long term volunteer like Sarah to see the improved health care, longer life spans, and strengthened human-animal bonds in the communities visited by HSVMA-RAVS.

For anyone who wonders what a career in veterinary technology can lead to, Sarah's impressive resume is a great reference. She has worked in just about every area of the field while pursuing her interests, and has found a way to do the work she loves that meets her childhood goal of giving back to animals.

Join the Adventure

The HSVMA-RAVS program relies on its team of dedicated professional volunteers, like Sarah, to provide preventative veterinary care to the animals in the 23 communities on Native Nations and in seven countries where clinics are held as well as to help shape the career path of future veterinary professionals. In return, HSVMA-RAVS provides its volunteer professionals with the opportunity to step up to personal challenges and to explore both the possibilities and rewards of giving back.

Learn more about HSVMA-RAVS and sign up for a 2013 field clinic»