During the 11 days of the Iowa State Fair, visitors have a chance to see cows, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, and other animals that exemplify farm life when they drop by the Knapp Animal Learning Center. And in charge of the center is Richland UMC member and veterinarian Dr. Gene Hoy, who does everything from checking the animals’ health status to overseeing live births. “We had one a couple days ago that, right in front of everybody, laid down and had her calf with 250 people watching,” reports Dr. Hoy.
Click to hear Dr. Hoy talk about being at the State Fair with Dr. Art McClanahan in an episode of Iowa Conference Conversations
Visitors young and old love to come by the center. “People ask questions about animals and what they’re doing, or relate back to their childhood days of growing up on a farm,” he says. “We have a lot of little kids come in and want to see the baby animals. That’s what we have fun doing. And if they see a birth, that’s something they wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise anywhere else.”
Dr. Hoy, who grew up on a farm in southeast Iowa, has been a veterinarian for 43 years, and it was a career choice he made at a very young age. “When I was 11 years old, I had a 4H calf that got sick,” he remembers. “And I waited all day for the old vet to come. He came, and didn’t really help her much. I said to myself, ‘I can do better than that.’ I decided then that I’d be a veterinarian and I never changed my mind.”
Click to see photos of animals in the Knapp Animal Learning Center at the State Fair
Although he’s been retired for a few years, this is the veteran veterinarian’s ninth year taking part in the State Fair. He sees his role at the Animal Learning Center, which includes working with veterinary students from Iowa State University, as being about education. “I also have volunteer students from the veterinarian college, and some veterinarians that come in and spend a few hours a day, just answering questions and talking.”
Young people who are part of Future Farmers of America (FFA) also participate and help Dr. Hoy with giving vaccinations to the animals, delivering babies, and so on. “They’ve been a great group of kids to work with. We’ve got some of the kids that I started out with that are now in college, some in veterinary college. They’re in Iowa State in Animal Science, all of that. And most of those are urban kids that have learned now that they like agriculture. So it’s a good learning experience for them and a good connection for me.”
Dr. Gene Hoy is a member of Richland United Methodist Church.