Mélyssa Léveille, RVT, EA, EAL Facilitator
Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technician program?
I studied at the University of Guelph, Alfred Campus. The Veterinary Technician program was offered through Collège Boréal. I studied in French and completed this program in a year and a half. This program was offered as a condensed program, so I completed a summer semester at Collège Boréal in New Liskeard, Ontario. I chose to become a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), as I had always had a heart for animals. I had done some shadowing in a veterinary clinic in high school and knew that I wanted to learn and grow in that environment. I’ve always been around horses and was hoping to continue my education and specialize as an Equine RVT in Alberta, after graduation.
What is your current job(s)? When did you start it? What are your primary responsibilities?
I am currently a full-time Educational Assistant and also the founder and owner of Earthside Acres Equine Assisted Learning, where I work part time as an Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator. Equine Assisted Learning is a facilitated approach to developing life skills with horses. I have a variety of clients, but I’m passionate about helping women through life challenges. Working with the horses helps them regain confidence, strength, and leadership in their lives. The program allows them to feel heard, understood and supported by other women. As an RVT, I have deepened my knowledge in equine health and care by working alongside other barn owners, farriers and veterinarians. I completed my certification in Equine Assisted Learning at Dreamwinds Equine Assisted Learning facility in Bradford, Ontario, in August 2021. As the owner of Earthside Acres, I am responsible for the horses’ care, health, nutrition and safety. I have a herd of six horses, which I socialize and practice groundwork with to ensure they are ready for my clients. I have some rescue horses in my programs who need extra care, which allows me to utilize RVT skills such as bandaging, wound care, and herd management.
What do you love about your current job?
I always knew my passion was working with horses. Even though my path after college changed, I am beyond happy that I was able to get back on track and work with horses. The highlight of my job is when clients share some “ah ha” moments with me about how they have experienced some growth within themselves, and when I see firsthand, the healing that the horses offer to my clients. I love bringing my two passions together: Horses and helping people heal and grow.
What other jobs have you had in the RVT field?
I worked for six years in the small animal department at Temiskaming Veterinary Services. In the rural area of Temiskaming Shores, working on-call in emergency services, performing dental procedures, assisting with routine surgeries, running laboratory diagnostics, and completing radiographs, were just a few of my responsibilities.
I also used my RVT skills at my family dairy farm, where I was responsible for the calves from birth to breeding age. I kept the herd on the right schedule of vaccinations, organized the logbooks and pharmacy inventory, tagged and de-horned the calves, and was responsible for the herd’s overall growth.
What or who has had a significant impact on your career as an RVT?
I strongly believe that we continuously learn and grow as individuals, and working in a clinic allowed me to do exactly that. I learned so much working in a busy environment, helping my team and providing emotional support to my clients, while also balancing my personal responsibilities. However, working at our family dairy barn also made me realize the variety of options available for RVTs. Both these experiences made significant impacts on my career, as they helped me see that it was possible to run my own horse business and do something that really inspires me.
If you could encourage other RVTs to focus on ONE thing to improve their skills, or overall wellbeing, what would it be?
Do something that speaks to your heart. You cannot be brave if you don’t do something scary. This is how I felt starting my own business. It was scary, lots of unknowns and questions, but I knew I had to pivot and listen to what spoke to my heart. I had personally experienced the healing from my horses and I knew I had to offer this service to my community.
RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about (nutrition, research, spay/neuter, dog bite prevention, education, etc.). What is your passion? Does your current job allow you to fulfill your passion?
I am passionate about working with horses and learning about their behaviour, nutrition and care. I practice liberty training with my horses and I’m always deepening my knowledge of riding. I am also passionate about helping people who are going through challenges in life. I listen and I offer space and support. My business brings together my passions. My goal in the years to come is to have a full-time facility, working with my horses, while helping my community.