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February 11, 2014

SUNY Delhi student meets, studies rare eagle

By Jessica Reynolds Staff writer
The Daily Star

---- — The same day Olympians in Sochi began their quest for gold, Downsville resident Christine Baldauf had her own brush with a rare golden treasure.

On Saturday, Baldauf had the opportunity to draw blood from a golden eagle, a rare bird that is endangered in New York, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The eagle was trapped early that morning in Andes as part of an experiment being conducted by the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society to learn about golden eagles migration on the East Coast.

Baldauf, a second-year veterinary science student at SUNY Delhi, said she was called Saturday morning by a family friend on whose property the eagle was trapped. Baldauf said the friend knew about her veterinary science background, so she asked if Baldauf would be able to draw the eagle’s blood so that lab work could be done to determine its sex and test its DNA.

Baldauf, 37, said an experience in one of her SUNY Delhi classes prepared her for the task at hand.

“In Farm Animal Nursing, I had to draw blood from a chicken,” Baldauf said. “The technique was the same for the eagle, there were just a lot more feathers.”

Baldauf, who was valedictorian of her graduating class at Downsville Central School, said she became a math teacher at the school after attending Elmira College. A former athlete, Baldauf also coached girl’s varsity basketball at Downsville for several years and led the team to the state final championship game.

But several years ago, Baldauf took a two-year leave from teaching after deciding she wanted to return to school and pursue veterinary science. She enrolled in SUNY Delhi’s Veterinary Science Technology Program.

“I’m giving myself more options,” Baldauf said, on returning to college.

Growing up on a farm, Baldauf said, she was surrounded by cows and other animals that needed care, and would often watch when veterinarians made visits. Baldauf said she often wondered if there were any procedures that her family could perform themselves.

“Now I know what goes on during those visits on a technical level, from a vet-tech’s perspective,” Baldauf said.

Other than chickens, Baldauf said, she has worked on horses, cats and dogs in her classes at SUNY Delhi. Baldauf said she likes SUNY Delhi’s program and is learning a lot. She said she’s unsure of what she wants to do after she completes her degree at SUNY Delhi, but is enjoying her time as a student for now. Baldauf said she’s a tutor for her fellow veterinary science students, which she enjoys doing because she is able to use her teaching background, she said.

Last summer, Baldauf completed her major’s internship requirement at the Delhi Animal Hospital with Jessica Arrigan, a veterinarian. Baldauf said she traveled around the area with Arrigan, assisting her in caring for large animals. She said she has also worked with Michael Powers, a veterinarian at the Cooperstown Veterinary Clinic.

“Those experiences were nice,” she said, because you get to see the theory you’re learning in classes put into practice,” Baldauf said.

Baldauf said she wasn’t nervous about drawing the golden eagle’s blood and didn’t see her role as “a big deal.”

“I had the skills,” Baldauf said, “so I was glad to help.”