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The Veterinary Green Discussion Forum from a Student Perspective

Hannah Ford, in her 4th year at the University of Surrey recently attended the Veterinary Green Discussion Forum hosted by the Webinar Vet where she had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges the veterinary profession are facing in light of the climate crisis and network with those working to make a difference.

Hannah Ford

On 14-15th June I had the opportunity to attend the Veterinary Green Discussion Forum in the beautiful Brockholes Nature Reserve.

This is an annual event hosted by the Webinar Vet that brings together individuals from across the industry to share and discuss the amazing work that is being done in sustainability and conservation. As a veterinary student, I am very grateful to have been able to attend the event and network with people from a range of veterinary companies and charities. It was really powerful to have such a close knit group all together in one room, sharing thoughts and collaborating for the same purpose and aim. I felt very comfortable sharing my views and asking questions, something that can be quite intimidating when in a room of very important people!

Across the two days, we had regular large and small group discussions which enabled us to hear the views of others and hear from powerful companies and charities about the work they are doing.

As sustainability is a relatively new topic within veterinary medicine, it is easy to think that little progression is being made. From the forum, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about how much work organisations, both big and small, are putting into this sector, and it inspires me to want to get involved.

Many ideas surrounding conservation and environmental health were introduced to me during my intercalated year, in which I studied Zoology at the University of Leeds and wrote a dissertation on the impact of animal agriculture on our environment. This made me aware of how little education around the topic is given to us on the veterinary course. The animals we treat have a direct relationship with the environment, whether it’s the grazing cattle, or dogs that are walked in the park. The mindset shift towards this relationship is essential when considering how we, as veterinary professionals, are impacting the world we live in. We all have the privilege of working in the industry at a time when this is known, and we have the power to make a change, and as students it is important we enter the profession with the correct mindset and voice to drive the change.

I applied for the role of student ambassador as I have a passion for sustainability in my personal life and would love to encompass it more in my professional life too.

When I graduate, I would love to find a role in an environmental or sustainability organisation and attending the Veterinary Green Forum has opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there. As veterinary professionals, sustainability and environmental health aren’t sectors that are widely advertised to us and may not seem directly relevant, but it is a passion that I have wanted to follow. The forum has enabled me to link my love for veterinary medicine and the environment, and I have come away motivated to further look into available opportunities, in sectors I had not previously considered, and has truly excited me for my future in the profession.