Impact of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine's Boiler Vet Camp on participants' knowledge of veterinary medicine

James L. Weisman Office of the Dean, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Sandra F. Amass Office of the Dean, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Joshua D. Warren School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Abstract

Objective—To assess whether Boiler Vet Camp, a 7-day residential summer camp for students entering eighth or ninth grade in the fall, would increase participants' understanding of career options in the veterinary profession, increase understanding of the science of veterinary medicine, or increase the number of students stating that they intended to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Design—Survey.

Sample—48 individuals attending the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp.

Procedures—Information on participant demographics was obtained from camp applications. A questionnaire was administered on the first and sixth days of camp, and results were analyzed to identify changes in responses over time.

Results—More campers correctly answered questions designed to evaluate knowledge of the veterinary profession and 10 of 12 questions designed to evaluate specific knowledge of the science of veterinary medicine on day 6, compared with day 1. Remarkable differences were not observed among gender or race-ethnicity groups for these questions. There was no significant difference between percentages of campers who stated that they would apply to Purdue before and after camp. Significantly more Caucasian campers stated they would apply to Purdue on both day 1 and day 6, compared with campers from under-represented minority groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that the Boiler Vet Camp accomplished 2 of its 3 planned objectives, suggesting that such camps can be successfully used to increase knowledge of the veterinary profession among middle school students. Reasons for the low percentage of participants from underrepresented minorities who indicated they would apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine require further exploration.

Abstract

Objective—To assess whether Boiler Vet Camp, a 7-day residential summer camp for students entering eighth or ninth grade in the fall, would increase participants' understanding of career options in the veterinary profession, increase understanding of the science of veterinary medicine, or increase the number of students stating that they intended to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Design—Survey.

Sample—48 individuals attending the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp.

Procedures—Information on participant demographics was obtained from camp applications. A questionnaire was administered on the first and sixth days of camp, and results were analyzed to identify changes in responses over time.

Results—More campers correctly answered questions designed to evaluate knowledge of the veterinary profession and 10 of 12 questions designed to evaluate specific knowledge of the science of veterinary medicine on day 6, compared with day 1. Remarkable differences were not observed among gender or race-ethnicity groups for these questions. There was no significant difference between percentages of campers who stated that they would apply to Purdue before and after camp. Significantly more Caucasian campers stated they would apply to Purdue on both day 1 and day 6, compared with campers from under-represented minority groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that the Boiler Vet Camp accomplished 2 of its 3 planned objectives, suggesting that such camps can be successfully used to increase knowledge of the veterinary profession among middle school students. Reasons for the low percentage of participants from underrepresented minorities who indicated they would apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine require further exploration.

Increasing the applicant pool for veterinary schools both in regards to diversity and professional interest (ie, workforce development) is critical to the future of the veterinary profession. In fact, it is considered such an important issue that 1 of the 5 goals in the AVMA's 2010 strategic plan is that “Veterinary workforce, infrastructure, and resource needs are identified and solutions developed in collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that national veterinary needs, including those with global implications, are met.”1

In recognition of the importance of workforce development, faculty, staff, and students at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine are working to increase the applicant pool for veterinary schools by increasing interest in the veterinary profession among students ranging from preschoolers through 12th-grade students. In a literature review, however, the authors found few studies relating to veterinary student recruitment and even fewer studies specifically related to the impact of recruitment during grade school or high school. Thus, the effectiveness of these early recruitment efforts is unclear.

It has generally been held that if the veterinary workforce of the future is to reflect the population of the future, then veterinary student recruitment must begin at an early age. For this reason, several schools and colleges of veterinary medicine have developed camps for sixth- through 12th-grade students designed to introduce participants to the breadth of careers in the veterinary profession and to increase interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

The Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, for example, developed a 5-day summer program called Veterinary Camp to attract eighth graders. The camp was residential, and campers attended sessions led by faculty and staff, with veterinary students acting as counselors. The program was started in 1999 and ran until 2006.2,3 The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine offered a summer program called Veterinary Exploration Through Science in 2010 for 11th and 12th graders.4 It was a nonresidential, day program with 1-week sessions. Veterinary students and faculty were involved with the camp. The Veterinary Enrichment Camp, offered by the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine for at least 25 years, is a 3-day residential program for high school students who have completed their sophomore or junior year.5,a

The Dr. Tim Ogilvie AVC Vet Camp is held at the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada. This week-long, nonresidential, summer day camp was started in 1999 and is offered to students entering the seventh, eighth, or ninth grade the following fall. New in 2010 is a Senior Vet Camp that will be offered to students entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.6 The Mini-Vet School is a program that was conducted from February through March 2010 by the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. Published information for this program does not indicate a specific age requirement, and the program is designed for people of all ages and backgrounds and consists of eight 1-hour classes on 4 consecutive Thursdays (2 classes each night) taught by faculty members.7

The Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine began offering its Boiler Vet Camp in 2008 to students entering the 8th or 9th grade the following fall, and in 2010, it will offer a new Senior Boiler Vet Camp to students entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grades, while continuing to offer the previous camp as the Junior Boiler Vet Camp to 8th- and 9th-grade students. Boiler Vet Camp is a 7-day, residential program conducted on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Campers attend sessions led by faculty members, with veterinary students acting as camp counselors. The objectives of the camp are to increase understanding of career options in the veterinary medical and veterinary technology professions, increase appreciation and understanding of the science of veterinary medicine, and increase the number of students who intend to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Boiler Vet Camp offers 24 hours of educational contact time for campers with faculty members and instructional veterinary technicians. In addition, campers have 18 hours of educational contact time during off-campus trips to the Fair Oaks Dairy (Indiana's largest dairy farm), Indianapolis Zoo, and Wolf Park (a local wolf and bison sanctuary). Fifty-seven faculty and staff members and 14 veterinary students have participated in delivery of the camp.

In 2008, 32 campers were selected to participate in Boiler Vet Camp from 35 applicants. In 2009, 50 campers were selected from 199 applicants. Campers were diverse in geographic origin, race-ethnicity, and gender. In 2008, 26 campers were from Indiana, 2 were from California, 2 were from Ohio, 1 was from Texas, and 1 was from Alabama. Six were male and 26 were female. One camper self-reported as being from a historically URM (defined as African American, Asian Pacific Islander, or Hispanic-Latino). In 2009, 40 campers were from Indiana, 2 were from Illinois, and 1 each was from Arizona, California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Fourteen were male and 36 were female. Thirty-one campers self-reported as being Caucasian, and 14 self-reported as being URM.

As indicated by other authors,8 recruitment resources, whether they be money or faculty and staff time, are key factors in the overall recruitment process. Given the resources allocated to the Boiler Vet Camp, in terms of funding and personnel time, the present study was undertaken to determine whether the camp was meeting its 3 stated objectives and to determine whether results differed depending on the gender or race-ethnicity of the campers. The study population for the present study was participants in the 2009 camp.

Materials and Methods

The study consisted of a questionnaire (Appendix) administered on the first and sixth days of the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp. To blind the investigators and to maintain confidentiality of the campers, a responsible individual with training in performing research on human subjects constructed a key that assigned each camper a number and contained information with respect to the camper's gender and race-ethnicity. Camper tests were identified with this number and not with the campers' names. A separate key containing only each camper's number, gender, and race-ethnicity was used by investigators to interpret results.

The study was approved by Purdue University's Human Research Protection Plan and was performed in compliance with institutional guidelines for research on humans. Consent for campers to participate in this study was obtained from the parents and legal guardians of campers.

The questionnaire was administered during the initial camper meeting on the first day of camp and again on the sixth day of camp. Campers had 30 minutes to complete each questionnaire. Purdue investigators were not present in the room at the time questionnaires were completed.

Statistical analysis—Descriptive statistics (numbers and percentages) were calculated. To determine whether camp objectives were being met, categorical data (numbers of campers who responded correctly and incorrectly, or yes and no, to pretest and post-test questions) were compared for all campers, male and female campers, and Caucasian and URM campers by use of the Fisher exact test. Standard softwareb was used for all analyses. Values of P < 0.05 were considered significant.

Results

Forty-eight of 50 campers participated in the study. The 2 campers who did not participate arrived late and did not complete the questionnaire on the first day of camp. Of the 48 campers who participated in the study, 34 were female and 14 were male. Information on race-ethnicity was provided by 45 participants, of whom 31 were Caucasian and 14 were URMs.

Increase understanding of career options in the veterinary medical and veterinary technology professions—There were significant (P < 0.001) increases between the first and sixth days of camp in the percentages of campers who correctly answered each of the 4 questions designed to evaluate knowledge of the veterinary profession (Table 1). On both the first and sixth days of camp, the percentages of campers who correctly answered each of these 4 questions did not differ significantly between males and females. For all 4 questions, there was a significant (P < 0.001) increase in the percentage of female campers who correctly answered each question between day 1 and day 6. In contrast, for only 3 of the 4 questions was there a significant (P < 0.005) increase between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage of male campers who answered correctly. For 3 of the 4 questions, percentages of campers who correctly answered did not differ significantly between Caucasian and URM campers. On day 1, a significantly (P = 0.01) higher percentage of Caucasian campers, compared with URM campers, were able to correctly list 3 career opportunities in veterinary medicine, but a significant difference between groups was not identified on day 6. For both Caucasian (P ≤ 0.013) and URM (P ≤ 0.013) campers, percentages of campers who answered correctly significantly increased between day 1 and day 6 for all 4 questions.

Table 1—

Responses of participants in the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp to questions designed to evaluate knowledge of the veterinary profession; questionnaires were completed on day 1 and day 6 of the 7-day camp.

 All campers (n = 48)Female campers (n = 34)Male campers (n = 14)Caucasian campers (n = 31)URM campers (n = 14)
Question No.Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6
127 (56.3)46 (95.8)*20 (58.8)32 (94.1)*7 (50)14 (100)*22 (64.7)30 (88.2)*4 (28.6)†13 (92.3)*
26 (12.5)39 (81.3)*3 (8.8)28 (82.4)*3 (21.4)11 (78.6)*5 (14.7)23 (67.6)*0 (0)13 (92.3)*
314 (29.2)37 (77.1)*9 (26.5)26 (76.5)*5 (35.7)11 (78.6)11 (32.4)26 (76.5)*1 (7.1)8 (57.1)*
40 (0)44 (91.7)*0 (0)30 (88.2)*0 (0)14 (100)*0 (0)27 (79.4)*0 (0)14 (100)*

Data represent number (%) of campers who provided a correct response.

Significantly (P ≤ 0.01) different from percentage who provided a correct response on day 1. †Significantly (P = 0.01) different from percentage of Caucasian campers who provided a correct response on the same day.

See Appendix for wording of the questions.

Increase appreciation and understanding of the science of veterinary medicine—For 10 of the 12 questions designed to evaluate specific knowledge of the science of veterinary medicine, there were significant (P ≤ 0.025) increases between day 1 and day 6 in the percentages of campers who correctly answered (Table 2). On both day 1 and day 6, the percentage of correct answers for each question did not differ significantly between male and female campers. Results for male and female campers were consistent with results for all campers with 4 exceptions: there was a significant (P = 0.045) increase in the percentage of female campers who correctly answered that an ECG displays electrical activity of the heart from day 1 to day 6; neither the male nor the female campers had a significant increase between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage who correctly listed the 2 main parts of a chicken egg; and the male campers did not have a significant increase between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage who correctly answered the question regarding the main product picked up by RBCs when passing through the lungs.

Table 2—

Responses of participants in the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp to questions designed to evaluate specific knowledge of the science of veterinary medicine; questionnaires were completed on day 1 and day 6 of the 7-day camp.

 All campers (n = 48)Female campers (n = 34)Male campers (n = 14)Caucasian campers (n = 31)URM campers (n = 14)
Question No.Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6Day 1Day 6
54 (8.3)30 (62.5)*2 (5.9)21 (61.8)*2 (14.3)9 (64.3)*3 (9.7)24 (77.4)*1 (7.1)4 (28.6)†
61 (2.1)39(81.3)*1 (2.9)28 (82.4)*0 (0)11 (78.6)*1 (3.2)26 (83.9)*0 (0)10 (71.4)*
735 (72.9)46 (95.8)*26 (76.5)34 (100)*9 (64.3)12 (85.7)22 (71)30 (96.8)*10 (71.4)13 (92.9)
817 (35.4)47 (97.9)*11 (32.4)34 (100)*6 (42.9)13 (92.9)*14 (45.2)31 (100)*2 (14.3)13 (92.9)*
94 (8.3)4 (8.3)2 (5.9)2 (5.9)2 (14.3)2 (14.3)4 (12.9)1 (3.2)0 (0)3 (21.4)
1026 (54.1)42 (87.5)*20 (58.8)30 (88.2)*6 (42.3)12 (85.7)*19 (61.3)28 (90.3)*6 (42.9)11 (78.6)
1138 (79.2)44 (91.7)25 (73.5)32 (94.1)*13 (92.9)12 (85.7)27 (87.1)28 (90.3)10 (71.4)13 (92.9)
1228 (58.3)39 (81.3)*20 (58.8)27 (79.4)8 (57.1)12 (85.7)21 (67.7)23 (74.2)7 (50)13 (92.9)*
131 (2.1)16 (33.3)*1 (2.9)11 (32.4)*0 (0)5 (35.7)*0 (0)8 (25.8)*1 (7.1)6 (42.9)
1418 (37.5)44 (91.7)*13 (38.2)31 (91.2)*5 (35.7)13 (92.9)*12 (38.7)28 (90.3)*5 (35.7)13 (92.9)*
1525 (52.1)44 (91.7)*18 (52.9)31 (91.2)*7 (50)13 (92.9)*14 (45.2)30 (96.8)*8 (57.1)11 (78.6)
167 (14.6)43 (89.6)*7 (20.6)30 (88.2)*0 (0)13 (92.9)*6 (19.4)28 (90.3)*1 (7.1)12 (85.7)*

Data represent number (%)of campers who provided a correct response.

Significantly (P ≤ 0.025) different from percentage who provided a correct response on day 1. †Significantly (P < 0.003) different from percentage of Caucasian campers who provided a correct response on the same day.

See Appendix for wording of the questions.

On both day 1 and day 6, percentages of correct answers for each question did not differ significantly between Caucasian campers and URM campers, with 1 exception: on day 6, a significantly higher percentage of Caucasian campers than URM campers correctly drew and labeled a dog's heart. Results for the Caucasian and URM campers were consistent with results for all campers as a whole, with 6 exceptions: Caucasian campers did not have a significant increase between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage who correctly listed the 2 main parts of a chicken egg, and URM campers did not have a significant increase between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage who correctly drew and labeled a dog's heart, answered the question regarding the main product picked up by RBCs when passing through the lungs, answered the question regarding the name of a female pig, listed the amount of water a cow drinks, and answered the question regarding blood types.

Increase in the number of students who intend to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine—For all campers, the percentage who stated on day 6 that they would apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine if they applied to veterinary school (42/48 [87.5%]) did not differ significantly from the percentage who did on day 1 (40/48 [83.3%]). Similarly, significant differences were not identified between day 1 and day 6 responses when campers were grouped on the basis of gender or race-ethnicity. There were no significant differences between the percentages of male and female campers who stated they would apply to Purdue on day 1 (12/14 [85.7%] vs 28/34 [82.4%], respectively) and day 6 (13/14 [92.9%] vs 29/34 [85.3%], respectively). Significantly more Caucasian than URM campers stated they would apply to Purdue on both day 1 (29/31 [93.5%] vs 8/14 [57.1%], respectively; P = 0.007) and day 6 (29/31 [93.5%] vs 9/14 [64.3%], respectively; P = 0.023).

Discussion

Results of the present study suggested that in 2009, objectives 1 (to increase understanding of career options in the veterinary medical and veterinary technology professions) and 2 (to increase appreciation and understanding of the science of veterinary medicine) of the Boiler Vet Camp were met for all campers as a whole and for both gender subgroups. Objective 3 (increase the number of students who intend to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine) was not met, but this was largely because of the high percentage of campers who indicated on day 1 that they would apply to Purdue if they decided to apply to veterinary school.

In the present study, all campers and subgroups demonstrated an increased understanding of the science of veterinary medicine when percentages of campers with correct answers for this portion of the questionnaire were compared between day 1 and day 6. However, differences were noted in the number of questions for which subgroups of campers had a significant increase in the percentage of correct answers. Significant increases between day 1 and day 6 in the percentage of correct answers were detected for 10 of the 12 questions for all campers and for the female campers, 8 of the 12 questions for male campers, 9 of the 12 questions for Caucasian campers, and 5 of the 12 questions for URM campers. The percentage of correct answers for each question was not significantly different between Caucasian and URM campers on days 1 and 6, with the exception of 1 question. However, fewer significant differences were detected among URM campers, possibly because the lower number of URM campers limited our ability to detect significant differences. Given that there were only 14 URM campers, the power to detect a significant difference between day 1 and day 6, if the true difference was 3 correct answers, was only 16%.

With regard to objective 3 (to increase the number of students who intend to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine) in the present study, on both day 1 and day 6, the percentage of URM campers who indicated they would apply to Purdue was significantly lower than the percentage of Caucasian campers who indicated they would apply to Purdue, and for the URM campers, the percentage did not increase significantly between day 1 (57.1%) and day 6 (64.3%). Unfortunately, campers were not asked to indicate whether they would apply to any veterinary school, rather than to Purdue specifically, and were not asked why they did not want to apply to Purdue. A potential explanation for the lower percentage of URM campers who intended to apply to Purdue is the lack of racial diversity in the community surrounding Purdue University and on the Purdue University campus. The population of Tippecanoe County, where Purdue University resides, is 89.6% Caucasian.9 The student population at Purdue University is 86.2% Caucasian,10 and the faculty and staff population at Purdue University is 75.3% Caucasian.11

Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine values diversity and inclusion and understands that for workforce development to be successful, the veterinary profession must ensure a climate of inclusiveness that is conducive to learning for all. To this end, the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine actively promotes a welcoming climate for faculty, staff, students, clients, recruits, and campers. Veterinary students at Purdue complete Intercultural Development Inventory Assessments and lead a school chapter of Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity. Because veterinary students participate as camp counselors, this attitude of inclusiveness should extend to Boiler Vet campers. In 2009, 14 veterinary students participated as camp counselors, of which 4 (28.6%) were from URMs.

To further explore questions raised by the present study, future tests administered to campers will request that campers provide reasons for wanting or not wanting to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and will ask campers whether they intend to apply to other veterinary schools. The investigators expect that these additional questions will distinguish campers who have changed career aspirations from campers who still desire to be veterinary students, but who do not wish to attend Purdue University. In this way, improvements to current recruitment strategies for both Purdue University and the veterinary profession in general can be implemented as needed. Future tests will also request information on previous exposure to veterinary medicine to better evaluate the knowledge base of entering campers.

a.

Brady Dennis, Senior Academic Advisor, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, 2010.

b.

GraphPad QuickCalcs, GraphPad Software Inc, San Diego, Calif.

ABBREVIATION

URM

Underrepresented minority

References

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Appendix

Questionnaire administered to participants in the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp.

          

Contributor Notes

Mr. Warren was a third-year veterinary student at the time of the study.

The 2009 Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine's Boiler Vet Camp was supported by the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Office of the Dean, Purdue University Office of the Provost, Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, Indiana Animal Health Foundation, Webster Veterinary, Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana Pork, Indiana Horse Council, Indiana Agriculture Association, Harlan, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Association of Equine Practitioners, North East Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, Southwestern Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, and Michiana Veterinary Medical Association.

The authors thank Barbara E. Cochran of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine for assistance in performing the study and Rebecca K. Hershey of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine for assistance in developing camp objectives and designing the study.

Address correspondence to Dr. Weisman (jweisman@purdue.edu).
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    AVMA. AVMA Strategic Plan, adopted April 12, 2008. Available at: www.avma.org/about_avma/governance/strategicplanning/current_strategic_plan.pdf. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Sprecher DJ. Insights into the future generation of veterinarians: perspectives gained from the 13- and 14-year-olds who attended Michigan State University's Veterinary Camp, and conclusions about our obligations. J Vet Med Educ 2004; 31: 199202.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University website. Vet camp update!. Available at: old.cvm.msu.edu/news/vet_camp_update.html. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

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  • 4.

    Penn Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania website. Summer VETS Camp program. Available at: www.vet.upenn.edu/EducationandTraining/StudentAdmissions/VETSSummer-Camp/tabid/1506/Default.aspx. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

    • Search Google Scholar
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    Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences website. Veterinary Enrichment Camp. Available at: www.cvm.tamu.edu/bims/camp.shtml. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

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  • 6.

    Ichabod Ink website. AVC Vet Camp earns top honors and student accolades. Available at: www.ichabodink.com/ArticleAVCVetCamp.aspx. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

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    Global Vets website. Mini Vet School. Available at: www.uoguelph.ca/∼gvets/Global%20Vets%20-%20MiniVets.html. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

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    Anderson Farquhar J, Jewell A. The science of recruiting: implementing the vision of diversity. J Vet Med Educ 2009; 36: 370374.

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    STATS Indiana website. Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Available at: www.stats.indiana.edu/profiles/profiles.asp?scope_choice=a&county_changer=18157. Accessed Apr 29, 2010.

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