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Spotlight: Karen Young, animal lover at heart, retires after 35 years of service

Karen Young portrait.
Karen Young.

“Before the age of computers, there were things called books. I read anything and everything about animals, nature, and science,” said Karen Young.

Now, after almost 35 years of service to Virginia Tech, Young is retiring and will have more time to do what she loves — spend time with animals and in nature.

Young began her professional career as a zookeeper in Illinois. “I started out at the zoo by educating kids and the general public about wildlife habitats and conservation,” Young said.

Young joined the Virginia Tech community after 10 years at the Illinois zoo as a laboratory specialist in multi-disciplinary labs at the College of Veterinary Medicine. In the instructional field she continued to feel rewarded through the fruits of her labor. “I felt I contributed to educating our future veterinarians,” Young said. 

Later, in 2012 she joined the Animal Care and Use Program bringing many years of experience with instructional protocols as an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol coordinator. Young has enjoyed helping faculty, graduate students, future researchers, and instructors continue humane care to ensure the well-being of animals used in research and teaching.

“I hope I have contributed to society with my knowledge, but I also know that there are thousands of people out there that are doing the same thing.”

“Karen has been a positive and productive colleague to all of us in the division, as well as an insightful and helpful partner to our research community," said Lisa M. Lee, associate vice president of the Division of Scholarly Integrity and Research Compliance. "We will miss her presence in the office and on campus, but we are incredibly happy for her as she embarks on an active retirement.” 

Also a retired farrier, Young lives on a farm with her family and many species of animals, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, geese, dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, birds, and the occasional rescued exotics. She has also been involved with her husband’s veterinary practice for over 30 years.

Young has a bachelor’s degree in biology, with an emphasis in molecular biology, and animal science, with an emphasis on bovine and equine, from the University of Illinois. She was certified as a licensed veterinary technician and wildlife rehabilitator in Illinois before moving to Virginia.

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