Priceless Donation Invaluable for Student Learning

Published: February 4, 2016

A donation that comes without a price tag is providing students at College of Western Idaho (CWI) with invaluable hands-on learning opportunities. Over the past two years, Independent Meat Company in Twin Falls has been donating pork hearts to the College’s Life Sciences Department. The hearts, which are an in-kind gift, have been used as dissection projects for students taking anatomy and physiology classes.

 “This is by far one of the coolest things we have gotten to do in this class,” Karina Baerwalde, a Nursing program student, said.

On this day, 11 students in Jessie Marquardt’s class are learning all about hearts—from the inside out. The students are looking at everything from their cellular make up and muscle structure, to taking apart plastic models to identify their chambers, valves, and vessels. Once the students are prepped and know what they are looking for, they are instructed to pick up a sealed plastic bag and head back to their work station. Inside, a heart about the size of a human fist awaits their next step.

“Anatomically, pork hearts are the closest we can get to human hearts,” Marquardt says. “In fact, pig valves are often used in people for heart repairs.”

In addition to Nursing, the students in Jessie’s class represent a variety of CWI programs; Biology-Healthcare, Exercise Science, and even Psychology. The knowledge they are gaining here will help all of them in their future professions.

“Learning now is so much more interactive,” Baerwalde said while demonstrating how classroom microscopes are linked to computers for larger, more enhanced microscopic views. “It is so cool to see inside of things and study them up close. This experience will help me better understand my job as a future nurse.”

“This experience was definitely better than I was hoping it would be,” Libna Luevanos, a Biology-Healthcare student, said. “We appreciate being able to do this so much.”

Independent Meat Company has donated 225 pork hearts to CWI. Paul’s Market on 12th Avenue in Nampa also plays a role in this ongoing donation. The meat department stores the hearts until they are ready to be used in class.

For more information about the College’s in-kind gift guidelines, please visit the CWI Foundation website.

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