By Courtney Clark
To say that Dr. Chris Carpenter is passionate about animals would be an understatement. Having practiced veterinary medicine for about eight years, and with experience in nontraditional veterinary fields such as marketing and communications, Carpenter still gets excited when he talks about animals.
He knew at age 11 that he wanted to be a vet, yet he ran into an issue even back then: he had no way to get experience working with animals or learning more about the science involved.
Six years ago, Carpenter decided to change this and make veterinary education more accessible to today’s youth. He established Vet Set Go!, an online resource for aspiring veterinarians.
Through digital media such as videos, activities and games, site visitors can view behind-the-scenes footage of animal care at vet offices, zoos and more. The videos also include educational information from animal experts about what science is involved. Carpenter explains that this is a way for youth to virtually shadow doctors and caretakers.
Carpenter also released a book to accompany Vet Set Go! The book, which was honored with the Mom’s Choice Award, is a great resource on how to get involved with the veterinary profession at a young age.
According to Carpenter, many vets and humane societies don’t allow children younger than 16 to volunteer. The book provides animal lovers with other ways to learn about animal science and gives examples. It also explains how to volunteer, meet veterinarians and connect with other kids who share the same veterinary interests.
Ultimately, Carpenter wants tweens — kids between the ages of nine and 14 — to explore their dreams. He provides suggestions to do just that, such as trying zoo camps and vet camps.
Vet Set Go!, was started as a solo project named after Carpenter’s dog. For the then-called Ichabod Ink, Carpenter would film veterinarians, zoo workers, vet oncology doctors, and the like to put on his website. In January of 2016, Ichabod Ink became Vet Set Go! with the help of a sponsor and now the videos are shot by professional videographers.
Tweens aren’t the only ones who benefit from Carpenter’s web community. He says the veterinarians enjoy feeling connected to people through the videos and Carpenter himself is continuously in awe of how children react to the resources he provides. The youth involved remind him of being that age with a passion for learning and for animals.
Running the organization is a challenge for Carpenter, who in addition to being a husband and a father, is also the executive director for the nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), which raises awareness for parasites in pets.
Yet the hard work is worth the results. If he could raise awareness for one aspect about the veterinary field, he would want people to realize the sophistication, dedication and challenges of being a veterinarian. Vets perform complicated surgical procedures using high-tech devices, just as surgeons do on humans. And in the end, he said, vets largely still love what they do every day.
This is why he continues with Vet Set Go! Since aspiring vets and current vets have such passion for their field, Carpenter urges children to learn more and for parents to take them seriously, even at a young age. With his web community, Carpenter is helping children realize their dreams.