May 28, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

Inside the veterinarian’s office, a young puppy was in need of feeding, while another dog lay on the surgical table. As Jim Koper performed surgery, Muhlenberg County middle school student Keith Smith watched intently.

Smith was one of 14 middle school students participating in a recent job-shadowing program sponsored by the Muhlenberg County 4-H program and the county school system.

“We’ve been active with the program even before it was formalized,” Koper said. “I like working with kids and it gives them a chance to see something in reality. Everybody thinks veterinarian is just playing with puppies and they get to see the good stuff, the bad stuff and the yucky stuff. Some decide right away that it is something they don’t want to get in.”

After several hours in Koper’s office, Keith was still interested in becoming a vet despite not liking it when one of the animals was stitched up.

“I have a weak stomach,” he said.

Gail Johnson, community education coordinator for Muhlenberg Schools, said they are hoping with the recent shadowing program to help students see the connection between school and work.

“Hopefully, in time they can really get focused and perhaps make a change,” she said. “It would be wonderful if we could do this for all children.”

Tommy Harrison, Muhlenberg County 4-H agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, said in the past as many as 40 students have gone through the shadowing program in a given year.     

Harrison said he believes the program is important because it allows kids to see the connection between earning and learning.

“It gives kids the opportunity to make a connection with an adult they are not accustomed to, and with a professional,” he said. 

Businesses are willing to participate, Harrison and Johnson said.

“I think businesses see the need,” she said.

Shyain Enix, an eighth grader at Muhlenberg North, was shadowing Brenda Rogers, a massage therapist. Initially, she was interested in being a pediatrician but a visit to the hospital discouraged that. Her day encouraged her to think about massage therapy.

Rogers said she thought it was worthwhile for adults to participate in the shadowing program.

“My daughter participated in this before and she’s come home and told me all about it and she really enjoyed it,” she said. “I think every child should be able to experience something that they maybe want to do in the future when they get out of school, or just something they enjoy doing.”

Tyler Brown shadowed the district judge and a local music business. Music is a passion for Brown so both were good fits for him as the judge also enjoys music.

Brown said the program can help students better understand what it takes to be in a specific profession, and as for himself, he plans to be a musician.      


Tommy Harrison, 270-338-3124