Learning woodworking skills in Animal Care Class? You bet. 

Students in Animal Care & Management class in the Biology Department (College of Arts & Sciences), have learned some valuable skills from someone in an entirely unrelated department. 

They weren’t skills one ordinarily would think of when it comes to animal care, but they were valuable nonetheless. 

“They learned woodworking skills,” said Delia Lister, who teaches the class and directs the daily care of a large collection of animals at Pittsburg State known as Nature Reach. 

Their teacher: Kevin Elliott, associate professor in Technology and Workforce Learning (College of Technology), who loaned power tools and expertise for the lesson. 

Woodworkers Kevin

Typically, the Animal Care & Maintenance class focuses primarily on captive animal welfare, behavior, nutrition, and diet prep, and students spend quite a bit of time learning about raptors like bald eagles, owls, and hawks. 

“Students learn anatomy, how to do a raptor necropsy (like an autopsy) with our vet, they learn about the maintenance of raptor enclosures and how it relates to the birds’ health, and they hear from guest speakers who talk about careers in zoos and wildlife rehabilitation,” Lister said. “They also have to give a live animal presentation.” 

By learning from Elliott, a former high school wood shop teacher, how to use woodworking tools, students can now make bird perches, bird houses, and other things valuable to the profession. Working in groups of three, they’ll also complete a project: building a flying squirrel house. 

"We covered how to use a miter saw, drill holes, clamp boards, take measurements, and basic safety,” Elliott said. 

Woodworkers measure

It was a great example, Lister said, of the type of collaboration that occurs often between departments and programs on the campus of Pittsburg State, to the benefit of students. 

“I love it that people across this campus are so willing to collaborate and help out our students because they care about their future,” Lister said. “The basic carpentry skills my students have learned from Kevin in this class will not only help them their future jobs, it will help them in life in general.” 

Learn more:

PSU Wildlife Ecology & Conservation program