Four Hermiston High School students attended the Future Farmers of America national convention, competing against students from 43 other states.
The competition was in Indianapolis, Indiana Oct. 22-27 and featured students from all around the nation, testing their skills in a variety of subjects.
Hermiston’s Veterinary Sciences team consisted of Kennidy Baker, Adriann Stewart, Isel Tejeda Urenda and Jenna Wallace. Baker took home a gold medal, Stewart and Wallace got silvers, and Tejeda Urenda received a bronze medal. Overall, the group made the silver team.
“With FFA, once you compete at the national level in a certain category, you’re never allowed to compete in it again,” said Baker, a junior.
Tejeda Urenda, a senior, said each state’s competition is structured differently, and Oregon follows a layout similar to the national level. The challenge, she said, is that the state and national competitions are almost a year apart.
Baker and Tejeda Urenda said there are many tasks and categories in which students have to compete. In the identification component, students have to be able to identify 43 parasites, around 130 tools, and 150 animal breeds, and will be quizzed on them at random.
There’s a math section, where students have to solve problems, such as how much medication to give an animal based on their weight. A written portion asked students to discuss opioids and how veterinarians have to consider human abuse of the drugs when administering them to animals.
There was a multiple choice test, a practicum portion, and an extemporaneous speaking portion. In the latter, students had to work in a group to prepare a presentation about “fear-free feline medicine,” which discusses the ways vets can reduce stress and anxiety for animals going to the veterinarian. That anxiety, in turn, leads to longer recovery times for animals.
Though not all of the students want to become veterinarians, some hope the skills they’re learning in FFA will transition to their desired careers.
“I’d like to be a ruminant nutritionist,” said Tejeda Urenda. “Developing feeds for cattle, lambs, anything with a four-chamber stomach.”
Baker does want to be a veterinarian, and has started looking at colleges.
“This is what I want to do with my life,” she said.