After three decades of teaching, Cathy Jones didn't know what else to do with her life.
She retired in 2010 from the Lebanon School District and just started work this year with the Harrisburg Humane Society, sweeping the floor and cleaning the animals and kennels.
Jones, 53, of Grantville, Dauphin County, said she has found the answer to her future in York.
"This has always been my dream to work with animals," she said. "Now I have an opportunity to learn more so I can do more for them."
Next month, Jones will be one of 24 students to start the new 21-month veterinary technician training program at YTI Career Institute-York, 1405 Williams Road in Springettsbury Township.
YTI held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the program's new 3,000-square-foot area constructed by Kinsley Construction. The construction project - a built-in area at YTI's facility - cost more than $600,000, said Carla Horn, YTI's campus president.
During the event, SPCA of York County volunteers ran a pre-adoption program to encourage the public to consider adopting animals from its shelter.
YTI and the SPCA are considering developing a partnership that would allow veterinary technician students to work with animals at the SPCA, said Peggy Buchanan, a volunteer SPCA supervisor ambassador.
"I'm excited about (YTI's) program and how it could be beneficial to our animals and their students," she said.
YTI officials planned for two years to offer a veterinary technician training program, with construction beginning nine months ago, Horn sad. The program is the only one of its kind within a 50-mile radius of the school, she said.
The area includes classroom/lab spaces, a surgery suite, a surgery preparation area, and dog, cat and laboratory animal kennels, said Kari Herchelroth, the veterinary technician program director.
She said she and a veterinarian will teach classes, with plans to bring in more veterinarians to teach later this year.
Herchelroth said study subjects include animal anatomy and physiology, nutrition, husbandry and breeding, sanitation, behavior, handling, nursing, and spaying and neutering.
Students will practice what they learn on cows and horses at Leg Up Farm in Mount Wolf and at White Oak Farm in York. They also will do surgical nursing externships, Herchelroth said.
YTI also will provide career education and review career opportunities with students, Horn said.
Herchelroth said students who complete the course will receive an associate's degree in specialized sciences/veterinarian technician.
Jones said being part of the training program confirms to her that she is going in the right direction in her post-retirement life.
"I'm just beginning right now," she said. "I have three grown children and I'm a grandma and I'm going back to school. I didn't know what I was going to do, but now I know I can be a veterinary technician."
The program will add two more 21-month classes in May and August, Horn said. There will be room for 48 students in each of those classes, said Herchelroth, who previously worked at Donegal Animal Hospital in Mount Joy, Lancaster County.
"It is amazing the amount of interest people have in this program," Herchelroth said. "It's overwhelming in a good way. We're telling people to start signing up for May and August. (The seats are) filling up fast."
YTI Career Institute-York is accepting applications for May and August classes of its veterinary technician training program. For information, call 757-1100 or 1-800-795-0971.
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