Of the Baker City Herald

Libby Thomas watched Wednesday as the staff of the Baker Veterinary Hospital amputated a dog's leg.

As a girl growing up on a ranch in the Halfway area, Thomas, 17, said she was not unnerved by the operation. It's her love for working with animals that has led her to consider a career as a veterinarian.

Jeff Apple of Halfway got the chance to get his hands dirty under a pickup truck at O'Neal's Repair Service. The 17-year-old said there was no place he'd rather be than in Brian O'Neal's shop as part of his job shadowing experience in Baker City. When he's not in class, he spends his spare time working on his own vehicles at Ted's Repair in Halfway.

Karl Young, 16, who's considering a scientific career, learned how wildlife biologists at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife monitor deer and elk herds in the Elkhorn Wildlife Area and how they track the life cycle of forest grouse by examining their wings and tail feathers.

The three Pine-Eagle High School juniors were among 24 members of the Career Exploration Class to visit Baker City Wednesday to shadow professionals in a variety of occupations.

This is the first year for the class, which prepares the 11th-graders to begin a senior project required for graduation, according to teacher Barbie Morgan.

The students spend the first semester exploring careers that interest them, Morgan said. During the second semester, they write a paper outlining their plans for a hands-on project during their senior year.

The class is tied to requirements for a Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) required by Oregon school reform.

This is the first group of Pine-Eagle students to visit Baker City in a job shadowing program as part of their career planning, Morgan said.

andquot;I think it's a great deal for our kids, considering where we're located,andquot; she said. andquot;They were really excited about it.andquot;

The Baker City job shadow participants were recruited by Donna Lowry, youth transition program manager at the Union-Baker Education Service District. Students then were paired with those who matched their career interests.

andquot;There was no hesitation from the businesses or agencies,andquot; Lowry said. andquot;They were all very cooperative.andquot;

Brian O'Neal of O'Neal's Repair Service was eager to offer his experience and expertise to a student interested in pursuing a career as a mechanic.

He believes young people need the hands-on experience to determine if they are suited to the demands of the job.

andquot;It's hard work and it's hard on your body,andquot; said O'Neal, who's been a mechanic for 25 years.

For Todd Calloway of the ODFW, the experience allowed him to help explain the work he does as a wildlife biologist.

andquot;A lot of people don't have a clue what we're doing,andquot; he said.

Wednesday's experience for the Pine-Eagle students was just one of many job shadowing opportunities the Baker Veterinary Hospital provides, according to Debbi Noe, administrative assistant.

Veterinarians Kim Mahaffey, Tom Hill, Brett Hamilton and Robin Hayes and their staff welcome Baker High School students regularly. Others from Burnt River High School at Unity and Powder Valley High School at North Powder also have participated in similar programs.

andquot;It's amazing to me how many kids want to do this,andquot; Noe said. andquot;There's lots and lots of them.andquot;