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Lycoming College presents panel on career paths involving canines

Lycoming College presents panel on career paths involving canines


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Lycoming College will present a “Canine Connections” panel discussion on dogs used in professional fields and work situations on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall. Panelists include representatives from the court system, law enforcement, education, veterinarian services, the county coroner and more. The event is free and open to the public.

The College Canine Committee (CCC) was formed at Lycoming to help students combat the pressures that occur during the course of a standard academic school year, and to help students learn sustainable techniques to manage stressful situations that will help carry them through careers and lifetimes of successes. CCC partners with Therapy Dogs International to bring certified, well-mannered and loving dogs to campus to spend time with students during stressful times of the semester.

“I love being part of an initiative that helps my peers to de-stress and succeed,” said Madison Pallante ’20, a business major at Lycoming College and founding member of the CCC.

“Given the love for dogs shared by so many students, I hope this panel discussion will open new doors for those who are considering professions that involve canines. Although often a vital component of a successful police force, there are a number of other fields that incorporate dogs, and we plan to cover many of them Wednesday night,” said Andrew Kilpatrick, associate dean of student success & academic services.

Participants will provide an overview of their experiences working with canines, their own education and how it relates to a broad-based liberal arts education, and will field questions from the audience. Panelists include:

  • Robert Ducharme and guide dog Nemo. Ducharme is the assistive technology specialist at North Central Sight Services, Inc., where he works with clients who are blind or visually impaired to help them select and learn assistive technologies, such as ios products, screen reading software and braille displays, that help them enhance their independence. Nemo, a graduate of The Seeing Eye guide dog school in Morristown, N.J., helps Robert navigate public places, including crossing streets, using the public bus system and walking to and from essential errands like the grocery store.
  • Katha Elser, retired kindergarten teacher, and Morgan. As a Title I reading teacher, Elser instituted a canine reading assistance program at Renn Elementary School in Lairdsville, Pa. Her golden retriever, Morgan, attended canine obedience classes and passed behavioral assessments to become a certified therapy dog. Morgan serves as a reading buddy for beginning and struggling readers, and also visits schools, libraries, skilled nursing facilities and the Family Promise program.
  • Charles Kiessling ’97, Lycoming County Coroner. Kiessling is responsible for the investigation of all sudden deaths to determine if the death is from natural, accidental, suicidal or homicidal manners of death. He also provides documentation of case information and testifies in court as required. Kiessling’s nursing education and experience in the medical field is a valuable asset when he is called upon to determine the cause of deaths and perform related investigations. Throughout his career, he has had to rely on canines to be his eyes and ears in the field, either by helping search and recover, and/or by utilizing cadaver dogs to locate a body.
  • Melissa Mahler, Assistant for Disability Support Services at Lycoming College, and Fiona. Mahler has been involved with Therapy Dogs International since 2007, and the dog training group Sit Happens since 2006. Fiona Florence Mahler is a Brittany spaniel who was adopted from the Lycoming County SPCA in 2016. She has earned her Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International certifications.
  • Christopher Massari, Pennsylvania State Police, and Tron. Massari is a trooper for the Pennsylvania State Police and Tron is a specially-trained explosive detection canine.
  • Joy McCoy Reynolds, judge, Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas. Reynolds oversees the Family Court Division, primarily presiding over cases involving custody, support, divorce, domestic violence, delinquency and Children & Youth matters. She is also the presiding Judge for the Lycoming County Juvenile Drug and Intensive Treatment Court, maintains a leadership role in the Children’s Roundtable Initiative, as well as serving on the Drug & Alcohol Workgroup, Benchbook Committee and Benchbook Edit Committee. Reynolds is chair of the Lycoming County Domestic Violence Task Force and founder of the Lycoming County Fatality Review Team.
  • Rachel Teribury ’99, veterinarian, Lewis Veterinary Clinic. Teribury possesses a vast knowledge of not only small companion animals, but also large animals. She received her undergraduate degree from Lycoming College, and in 2003 received a degree in veterinary medicine from Cornell University.
  • Randi Way, Tioga County District Court Administrator and Drug Court Coordinator, and Garland. Way trained with Canine Companions for Independence, and has worked with Garland in the county courthouse since 2015. Garland’s primary responsibility is to sit with children who have to come into court to help keep their stress levels down. Garland is also available to help with domestic violence and sexual assault cases and any other case in which the person may have experienced a traumatic event.

Courtney Dexter, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Lycoming College, will moderate the discussion. Dexter teaches a number of special education courses at the College, and is a member of Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders and an adviser for Lyco Buddies, a partnership program for students and individuals with disabilities in the community.

This event is co-sponsored by the education department at Lycoming College and the CCC.

  • Morgan


  • Rachel Teribury '99

    Rachel Teribury '99

  • Randi Way and Garland

    Randi Way and Garland

  • Judge Joy McCoy Reynolds

    Judge Joy McCoy Reynolds

  • Melissa Mahler and Fiona

    Melissa Mahler and Fiona

  • Robert Ducharme and Nemo

    Robert Ducharme and Nemo

  • Charles Kiessling '97

    Charles Kiessling '97

  • Cadaver dog

    Cadaver dog

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