HONORA BAY—Cassia Michel is a familiar face at Honora Bay Riding Stables, where she has spent several summers as a trail guide and trusted staff member at the barn. Ms. Michel has built upon her equine experiences on Manitoulin to launch a career as a veterinarian and a stint this summer on the Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities project in Uganda with Veterinarians Without Borders.
“For years Cassia has been my main overnight guide and trusted staff at the barn,” said Honora Bay Riding Stable owner Kyla Jansen. “I have happily shared my equine knowledge with her and she has worked very hard with other veterinarians in Northern Ontario to achieve this. I am very very proud of what this young lady has accomplished.”
“I was born and raised in Sudbury but Manitoulin Island has always been a second home to me,” said Ms. Michel. “I discovered my love for nature and animals. Volunteering and working at the Honora Bay Riding Stable for as long as I can remember I knew that working with animals was what I wanted to do.”
Honora Bay Riding Stables will be hosting a cheese and crackers meet and greet on Wednesday, February 22 from 6 to 8 pm at the Jansen farm on Highway 540. Folks are invited to come and meet Ms. Michel and take in a small presentation of what she will be doing when she travels to Africa. “We are hoping to encourage other like-minded young people who have an interest in the animal health sciences to meet Cassia and talk about opportunities available to them,” said Ms. Jansen.
Ms. Michel completed a three-year Bachelor of Science in Biology at Laurentian University and has volunteered in a variety of positions working with animals and veterinarians across the North. “I am currently in my first year of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph,” she said. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Uganda this summer to volunteer with Veterinarians Without Borders through the Young Volunteers Program. From May to August I will be working on the Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities project, working with small-scale goat and dairy farmers in small communities of southern Uganda.”
Ms. Michel notes that “by increasing knowledge and access to animal health services this project hopes to strengthen the livelihoods and household nutrition of these farmers. This will be an amazing opportunity for me to learn new skills that will help me in my future career as a veterinarian while also experiencing a new culture.”
Working on this project will provide the budding vet an opportunity “to witness international development with a One Health approach in action.”
One Health is the concept that animals, people and the environment are all interconnected and improving one situation can have direct effects on the others,” she explains. “This project, for example, hopes to improve the health of the farm animals and in doing so help prevent spread of disease from animals to people as well as improving the socioeconomic status of the small-scale farmers we will be working with.”
Ms. Michel credits the support of her family, friends and local communities in enabling her to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. “I am currently fundraising for my trip with all proceeds going directly to Veterinarians Without Borders,” she said. Donations can also be made online a www.vetswithoutborders.ca/yvp-cassia-michel.