Tufts Veterinary Students Lend a Hand at Sanctuary

Veterinary students from Tufts University—all members of the new HSVMA student chapter—recently put in some volunteer time at a local farm animal sanctuary near their school.

Tufts students at sanctuary
Marissa Kakoyiannis, Katherine Rodriguez, Laurel Bifano, Michelle Lamond, and Chumkee Aziz, all first-year veterinary students at Tufts University, during a visit to Maple Farm Sanctuary.
Pete Mellor/Maple Farm Sanctuary

Maple Farm Sanctuary, located in Mendon, Massachusetts, is operated by the husband and wife team of Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis and Jim Vandersluis, who together converted a small dairy farm they inherited into a sanctuary for animals.

Lifelong animal lovers, the couple wanted to create a safe haven for animals, where they would be treated as individuals and allowed to peacefully live out the remainder of their years.

The Student Experience:

By HSVMA Student Chapter members Justin Lamb, Rita Jou, Marissa Kakoyiannis and Chumkee Aziz

On our first visit to the sanctuary, we had an opportunity to tour the farm, meet each of the resident animals and familiarize ourselves with some of the unique challenges facing farm animal sanctuaries.

Our experience at the sanctuary proved to be a valuable opportunity to learn more about the tireless efforts of Jim, Cheri and their team of dedicated volunteers who work not only to provide for the sanctuary's animals, but also to promote animal welfare awareness, outreach in the local community and veganism.

Chumkee with chicken
Chumkee Aziz, veterinary student at Tufts, gets hands-on experience with a new friend at the sanctuary.
Pete Mellor/Maple Farm Sanctuary

Helping with everything from meal preparation and feeding to hoof trimming and physical therapy for the sanctuary's latest arrival—a goat named Willie—we had a chance to learn about the broad range of activities at the sanctuary.

Constantly bombarded with relentless bookwork in our first year of vet school, the hands-on experience we gained at the sanctuary was a reminder to each of us why we're here and what we're working so hard for—to help the animals.

Although we made it out to the sanctuary only a few times this semester, next semester we hope to set up a rotating schedule of HSVMA students to volunteer at the sanctuary every weekend.

Get Involved!

This is just one example of activities that HSVMA Student Chapters can get involved with to help animals. For more information on starting a student chapter at your veterinary school and suggestions on chapter activities, visit hsvma.org/student_chapters.