Thanks to a grant from the Westford Education Foundation, the Veterinary Assisting program at Nashoba Valley Technical High School this spring will have a outdoor area for students to learn the skill of dog training.
The Veterinary Assisting program received the Innovative Grant from the foundation, and Kate Hawkins, one of the program’s instructors, said without it, the training area would not be possible.
The area which is adjacent to a small building on the campus that once served as the Dance and Art Studio, will be 45 feet by 90 feet, and the studio will be converted to be part of the training area.
According to the grant application, which was written by Gabriella White, director of curriculum for Nashoba Tech, the space will include “an outdoor dog training area ... with special turf flooring (to)  allow students to train dogs for obedience, agility, and service.”
In addition to the grant, Liam Reed of Pepperell, a junior in the Veterinary Assisting program, is hoping to supply and install fencing around the training area as his Eagle Scout project.
White also wrote: “Increasing the time students can spend outdoors is beneficial in light of the current worldwide pandemic, and this training facility ... will open new avenues for future certifications and employment opportunities for the students. Dog adoptions have been on the rise in the last several months, creating a growing demand for obedience training. There is also the need for a wide variety of service animals of all types, and students could help satisfy this need.“
The Westford Education Foundation  is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes innovative educational initiatives and champions lifelong learning by building a wide community of support, fostering ideas, channeling resources, and funding exceptional learning programs.

Photo Caption:

Veterinary Assisting staff and sophomores, and some of their furry friends, stand in front of the area that will become a dog-training area in the spring. Front row, from left, are Collette Dufresne (Chelmsford), Carli Cogliano (Chelmsford), Sophia O’Donoghue (Littleton), Hailey Murtagh (Townsend), Chloe Greenslade (Westford), Kayleigh Pearson (Westford), Joanna DeSouza (Lowell) and Lily Lavigueur; and, back row, from left, Isabella Leonardo (Townsend), Ayva Parsons (Pepperell), Instructor Kate Hawkins, Alivia Ryan (Pepperell) and Savannah Albert (Pepperell).