Cedar County Vet Tech Has Advice for Students

Published on: August 11, 2020 ,

If you don’t like the thought of being dirty, scratched, bit or vomited on, being a veterinary technician may not be the career for you.

That’s advice from Valerie Sovereign, a Northeast Community College graduate who works as a vet tech in the Cedar County Veterinary Clinic in Hartington.

“But if you truly love animals and don’t mind hard work,” Sovereign said, “being a vet tech is a great job.”

The former Valerie Tiedgen graduated from Battle Creek High School in 2003 and earned an associate of science degree from Northeast two years later. While at Northeast, she played basketball for Coach Matt Svahla.

Sovereign transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, receiving her bachelor of science degree in animal science with a pre-vet option in 2007. In 2008, she married Nick Sovereign and returned to Northeast to become a licensed vet tech, graduating in 2010.

“Northeast was a great place to start my education,” Sovereign said. “The credits transferred easily to UNL, and I felt well-prepared for university-level classes.”

“The smaller class size at Northeast was one of the biggest benefits,” she continued. “There were hundreds of students in my organic chemistry class at the University. At Northeast, the teachers had more time to interact with students, and there were more hands-on opportunities, too.”

While working on her vet tech degree, Sovereign interned at the Cedar County Veterinary Clinic with Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder. They hired her when she graduated, and that is where she still works.

“As a vet tech,” Sovereign explained, “you are your doctor’s right hand, assisting where needed. I sometimes go on farm calls with Dr. Ben and assist Dr. Erin with small animal surgeries and other procedures.”

A new twist was added to her career when the Schroeders decided to film the day to day activities of their practice for the reality tv series “Heartland Docs, DVM,” which airs on the Nat Geo WILD channel.

“It can add hours to an appointment,” Sovereign said of the video process, “but it does show the world what a rural veterinary practice is like.”

Through the Nexus campaign, Northeast Community College is currently building new ag facilities, including a vet tech clinic and classroom building. Sovereign believes a new vet tech clinic building would be beneficial to future Northeast students. “Dr. Erin has remodeled the Cedar County Clinic to improve flow and it makes everything more convenient,” she explained. “Giving students that example of a well-designed clinic will help them in their jobs.”

The initial phase of construction on the Nexus project includes the new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the Fall of 2021.

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.