© Jim Day - The Guardian
John and Carol MacLeod of Valleyfield receive an award from the Atlantic Veterinary College for their yearly invite to veterinary students to attend their sheep farm.
The special recognition got John MacLeod to thinking.
He and his wife Carol have indeed had quite a hand in educating veterinarian students for many years. That interaction has been considerable and impactful.
The MacLeods are one of the earliest clients to volunteer their time and knowledge to students through the Atlantic Veterinary College Farm Services.
Hundreds of vet students have made their way to the couple's sheep farm in Valleyfield over the years.
One of those students, Mary Claire Sanderson, lauded the efforts of this pair Wednesday before presenting them with the 2013 Honourable Eugene F. Whelan Green Hat Award, which pays tribute to people who have had a significant and positive impact on the AVC and veterinary medicine in Atlantic Canada.
"Having had a chance to help with lambing and shearing at the MacLeod's farm, I've come to know the generous and hard-working nature of John and Carol, and their passion for teaching and for their animals,'' Sanderson said during a special ceremony recognizing UPEI contributors.
"Both are exceptional teachers who make us feel very welcome on their farm.''
John MacLeod, who describes himself as a man of few words, called the award "very humbling'' especially with the honour named after Whelan, the late federal agriculture minister for whom MacLeod held in high regard.
Carol earned an education degree at UPEI but chose to farm in Valleyfield. Noting she loves to teach and loves working with students, the Farm Services program has allowed her to marry her training to become a teacher along with her passion for farming.
"I've learned a lot from the students and the professors too,'' she says.
"It's just a wonderful relationship because it works back and forth.''
Sanderson describes the extremely knowledgeable sheep farmers as very generous educators.
"Just coming from a background of never having ever really been on a farm before, I really appreciated them being so generous as to open up their home to so many students during a very important part of their business, which is the lambing,'' she says.
"And just being open to us coming there but also providing an extremely educational experience by being so involved and taking the time to explain the process to us and all the different techniques.''
Carol welcomes the opportunity to give vet students the straight goods.
"I tell them as it is,'' she says.
"If somebody says something that I don't quite agree with I challenge their thoughts and vice versa...it's a good learning experience that way.''
Sanderson notes that the MacLeods' contribution to AVC does not end with hosting students on their farm.
They also support students financially through the John and Carol MacLeod Award for Research Communication Excellence for a graduate student at AVC, and a recently created scholarship for a third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student interested in the husbandry and well being of domestic small ruminants.
"I am very grateful for the opportunities that Carol and John have afforded me on my journey to become a veterinarian, as I'm sure are all the students who came before me,'' she says.