Sometimes people quietly slip in and out of our school, volunteering their time and expertise. MT Schwartz is one of those people. Carrie Heimlich. Our Veterinary Science Instructor Carrie Heimlich had this to say about MT:
I was blessed to be put in contact with MT during my first-year teaching through a mutual friend. MT was instrumental in starting the reptile breeding program at the Marion Correctional Institution and is an undeniable figure in reptile education and rescue groups in Ohio. She has also been a breeder of quality bearded dragons for over 30 years and is the public relations spokesperson for the All Ohio Reptile Show. When I contacted her during those first few crazy months of starting this program, I was looking for guidance and suggestions on types of animals to house, general husbandry, and treatment suggestions—I had no idea what I was in for by asking for help!
I had little previous experience with reptiles, other than handling the few that had come through the doors at the veterinary clinics in which I had worked. And to be honest, they were not my favorite. MT was more than excited to hear about our Vet Science program and wanted to be involved in giving my students exposure and experience with reptiles and amphibians. She didn’t care whether I knew anything about them or even wanted to learn—she was happy to teach me.
She has been a lifelong advocate for all animals but has had a soft spot for her ‘furless babies.’ And when I say she loves educating people about reptiles and reptile care, that is an understatement! I can’t begin to tell you how much time and energy she has put into this program. She has come in every year to give her husbandry talk to the junior students—explaining that many health issues can be avoided with proper housing, light, temperature, and diet. The students love that she is so animated in her discussions and prompts conversations and questions with ease. She has given us animals that needed specialized care so that my students could learn on real case scenarios. From rescued, malnourished lizards and snakes to a wide variety of animals just needing new homes. She has given supplies and donated items without hesitation.
MT has mentored students and guided them when they perform community service hours by volunteering their time at the All Ohio Reptile Show. She has trained them on reptile maintenance as well as how to communicate with customers and educate the public. She has even been a judge for our Senior Capstone research projects and presentations for the past four years.
It is harder for me to tell you what she means to me. She is only a phone call or text away with reptile health questions and concerns. She has stayed after hours to offer healing to my personal animals and has made connections for my students in the reptile world so that they may learn and feed a passion that is near and dear to her heart. This friendship with her has been a journey in which I have learned just as much as my students. MT has made an impact on my program by showing compassion, patience, and enthusiasm and has offered real-world knowledge and understanding.
For all of this, MT Schwartz is more than deserving of the Tri-Rivers Distinguished Service Award.