VANCOUVER, Wash., Sept. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Banfield Pet Hospital® – the nation's leading provider of preventive veterinary care and part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices – today announced a nearly $10 million commitment over the next year toward supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and strengthening educational pathways for current and future veterinary professionals. This includes a new national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America focused on encouraging high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in veterinary medicine.
Banfield believes hands-on education should involve tail wags and purrs whenever possible, so the practice is also launching every pet lover's dream opportunity with the help of actor and comedian Kenan Thompson, who plays a Banfield veterinarian in an upcoming feature film. Banfield's "NextVet" is a once-in-a-lifetime paid internship that will give deserving high school students across the country an immersive experience, providing insight into multiple aspects of being part of a hospital team.
These new initiatives follow research conducted by Banfield which found an estimated 75 million pets in the U.S. may not have access to the veterinary care they need by 2030, with an important factor being a critical shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Further, with nearly 90% of veterinarians identifying as white, the need to not only grow but also diversify the talent pipeline is critical for the industry.
"At Banfield, we are constantly evaluating how we can make lasting societal impact," said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. "As we look to the state of our industry and the needs of pets, people, and communities, we must take action to diversify and strengthen the veterinary talent pipeline. By removing barriers to equitable education, we're helping current veterinary professionals realize their full potential while creating accessible pathways for individuals that aspire to follow in their footsteps."
This partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America expands the reach of Banfield Pet Academy, a program established 15 years ago to inspire future veterinary professionals by introducing them to veterinarians and veterinary technicians in their community. Since its launch, the program is on track to reach 100,000 kids by the end of 2022. Having primarily focused on grades K-8 in the past, the new NextVet edition of Pet Academy is designed specifically for high school students. These initiatives provide a platform to connect with older teens as they look toward the next step in their academic journey.
As part of Banfield's commitment to using its size and scale to share resources with the broader veterinary profession and benefit society, the practice has made all three editions of Pet Academy – aimed at elementary school, middle school, and high school students – available at no cost to the entire industry.
"I'm excited to partner with Banfield and connect with Boys & Girls Club members to raise awareness of the wealth of opportunities that exist in the veterinary field," said actor and comedian Kenan Thompson. "I'm a firm believer in providing the next generation with the tools and resources they need to follow their passions, and Banfield's NextVet internship program is a great example of how we can open doors and create opportunities for high school students of all backgrounds."
"As pioneers in youth development, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to providing programs and opportunities for young people to thrive," said Jim Clark, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "We are proud to partner with Banfield to help underrepresented students explore the veterinary profession and encourage kids and teens to reach their full potential through positive mentorship."
Banfield continues to put considerable resources into education-focused programs and initiatives. This includes helping its veterinarians pay down their student loans through its Student Debt Relief Program and expanding its partnership with InStride, which provides paraprofessionals Banfield-paid tuition to complete an online, STEM-related undergraduate degree. In partnership with Appalachian State University, Banfield continues to invest in the development of a new four-year online veterinary technician degree program to help address the market demand – particularly in rural communities – for skilled veterinary professionals. These initiatives build on the $9 million Banfield invested over the last 12 months in education-related programs for its Associates.
In service of the communities in which Banfield lives and serves, the practice is donating 2,000 STEM kits to local Boys & Girls Clubs across the country and encouraging its 19,000+ Associates during Mars Volunteer Program month in October to support educational pathways in their neighborhoods and beyond, including holding STEM supply drives, providing Pet Academy presentations, connecting with students and more. Banfield's goal is to reach 10,000 students in the month of October alone.
The NextVet application process will officially open October 27 for students 16+ who reside in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland-Vancouver, and Washington D.C. Applicants will be invited to submit a video, art project or essay sharing why they want to be the NextVet. For more details, please visit https://jobs.banfield.com/NextVet. Post your creative submission online and tag @BanfieldPetHospital and #NextVet for a chance to be featured on Banfield's pages.
To further learn from and inform the next generation about the benefits of pet ownership as well as the passion and opportunity within the industry, Banfield is also expanding the reach of its Youth Advisory Board program. Students ages 16+ across the country will be invited to apply for an all-virtual paid opportunity to gain leadership skills and knowledge about the industry – while helping Banfield continue to drive innovation. Applications will open later this year.
About Banfield Pet Hospital®
Banfield Pet Hospital was founded in Portland, Ore. in 1955 and today is a pioneer in preventive veterinary care with more than 1,000 general veterinary hospitals in 42 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Mexico. More than 3,600 Banfield veterinarians are committed to providing high-quality veterinary care to over three million pets annually. Banfield collects data from each of these visits in the U.S.'s largest electronic veterinary health records system. Our goal is to be here for pets, people, and society. As part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices, Banfield is committed to its purpose—A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS®—because pets make a better world for us. Press seeking additional information are invited to call the Media Hotline: (888) 355-0595.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. More than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.3 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Banfield Pet Hospital