OKC Zoo Recognizes Former Teen Volunteer, Dr. Josiah Dame, for Earning Prestigious Veterinary Medicine Award

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is proud to recognize former Zoo junior curator, Dr. Josiah Dame of Shawnee, Oklahoma, for being awarded the Dean Clarence H. McElroy Award, the highest honor an Oklahoma State University (OSU) veterinary student can achieve.

Named after the first dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the award is voted on by fourth year classmates and clinical faculty. Dame credits his passion for veterinary medicine to his time at the Zoo in the Junior Curator Teen Volunteer program, from 2011 to 2013.

Junior curators are a specially selected group of students, ages 14-17 years old, who work side-by-side with the veterinary team, animal care teams and horticulturists to explore a variety of careers within a Zoo and botanical garden setting.

“During my time as a teen volunteer at the Zoo, I had so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” said Dame.

“In my second year of the Junior Curator program, I was able to assist in the veterinary department. This was my first exposure to veterinary medicine—and what a fantastic way to be introduced to it! I started to learn about treatment plans, emergency medicine, nutrition, case documentation and basic hospital upkeep. This taste of veterinary medicine left me wanting more and, as a result, I continued my education at OSU for undergrad and veterinary school.”

In spring 2020, Dame returned to the OKC Zoo as a senior OSU veterinary student, as part of his clinical year. During his three-week rotation in the Zoo’s veterinary department, Dame worked alongside Zoo Director of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino; Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Gretchen Cole; and Veterinary Resident, Dr. Ryan McCann; veterinary technicians Mark Romanoski, Stephanie Elliott and Liz McCrae, and veterinary assistant, Kaitlin Eagle. 

As a teaching veterinary hospital, Dame’s experience at the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital led him to learn and perform various medical procedures under the guidance of Zoo veterinarians and veterinary technicians. This included blood collection from an otter, eye examinations of several bird species, performing an ultrasound and X-ray on a bamboo shark and lastly, assisting with Liberty the harbor seal’s eye surgery.

“Josiah was an outstanding student during his time in the veterinary hospital,” said Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino. “His initiative and passion for animals made teaching him an absolute joy. I’m confident he’ll continue to achieve great things in his veterinary career.”

Following graduation from Oklahoma State University, Dr. Dame moved to Dallas, Texas, where he is working in a small animal general practice at City Vet, their White Rock location. The OKC Zoo’s veterinary team congratulates him and wishes him great success as he begins his career in veterinary medicine.

“The knowledge I learned while volunteering at the OKC Zoo will be with me forever,” said Dr. Dame.

If you are interested in becoming a junior curator at the Zoo, please go to www.okczoo.org/teen-volunteers to learn more. 2021-2022 applications will be available April 2021.


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