Mount Laurel officials, PAWS Farm volunteers and the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine of Rowan University have announced that the farm will be run by the new school starting in January.
Volunteers for PAWS Farm Inc. is a nonprofit whose mission is to restore the organization’s buildings and property and support the operation of the farm through fundraising to bring back educational interaction with animals and nature.
The Shreiber veterinary school will be the first in the state to offer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and related degrees designed to shape the future of veterinary medicine and animal health care in New Jersey. The school is expected to welcome its first class in 2025, pending accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education.
As Volunteers for PAWS Farm Inc. concludes its time running the 10-acre property, one member, Katherine Tweedy, touched on the group’s work there.
“The board of Volunteers For Paws Farm Inc. has diligently and tirelessly repaired and restored all the buildings and grounds of the PAWS farmstead and opened it to the public for the last two summers,” she noted, “and is now prepared to turn over this historic and now beautiful … property to the new Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine – of the outstanding and exemplary Rowan University – to preserve and to enhance our beloved PAWS Farm.”
“Part of our school’s mission is to collaborate with partners in the community to broaden the impact of education in veterinary medicine, and this fits perfectly with that,” said founding veterinary school dean Dr. Matthew Edson. “We see PAWS Farm as an important component of how we want to connect with people in our area to increase understanding of the importance of animals in our lives.
“This facility will advance our mission of introducing people of all ages and backgrounds to opportunities in veterinary medicine they may have never considered before.”
“As an advocate for animals, both on the farm and in our homes, the funding and programs for PAWS Nature Center and now the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine are essential in keeping our friends healthy and educating our future animal care providers,” observed state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy.
“I will always do what I can to fight for our community and continue the success and growth of PAWS’ original mission,” she added.
“We knew that there would be great value in South Jersey being home to a vet school, and
partnerships like this underscore the benefits it brings in our communities,” said state Sen. Troy Singleton, who advocated for state funding for the vet school.
“As the first veterinary school in New Jersey, we are honored to commence stewardship of PAWS Farm and hope to inspire young people to consider veterinary medicine as a future career path,” said Dr. Suzie Kovacs, an associate dean at Shreiber. Dr. Kovacs will oversee the team running programming at PAWS Farm once it is in place.
She also noted that there will be a transition period before new programming takes place on site.
“We are being very thoughtful about how we proceed,” Kovacs explained. “We are currently in the process of hiring the on-site team, developing curriculum, and making plans for the community … We want to make this (the farm) a place where people who remember it from their childhood will enjoy bringing their own children and grandchildren here.
“There will be many new memories made at PAWS Farm.”
The vet school plans to keep the traditional experience of the farm alive and well through public access and plenty of programs for youth and families.
“This is great news for our township, which places community first,” said Mount Laurel Mayor Stephen Steglik. “As a Green Acres location, PAWS Farm is an important part of our
town’s history, and with the active participation of Rowan University, will remain an important part of its future.
“When PAWS closed right before COVID, we made a commitment to the residents that we would continue to work to find a long-term solution,” he added. “We know there was skepticism based upon everything that was happening around the world. After much hard work … we are pleased to announce we have kept this promise.”
For more information visit on the Shreiber school, visit www.svm.rowan.edu.
The PAWS Farm website is currently at www.pawsfarm.org.