Written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM
For the last two years I have had the pleasure of working with students from San Luis Obispo High School’s FFA program. SLO High Ag Department teacher, Anna Bates and I have been friends for many years and I was honored when she reached out for my help. Last year was their first year competing in the Veterinary Science competition. The competition changed a little from last year, and this year this group of 5 Sophomore girls-Hailey, Brynn, Darcy, Amber and Clare-learned everything from identifying breed and parasites, to surgical instruments, medical math equations, and animal handling skills. We worked closely together every week to master all of the parts of this test, especially the practical part of the test where they had to demonstrate certain skills, like holding dogs and cats for veterinary procedures, how to remove bandages, fill syringes, and clean ears. Though these skills were demonstrated on stuffed animals, the girls had to talk through what they were doing and treat the stuffed animals as if they were real. These girls are excellent public speakers, and mastered these practicum well. We had Dr. Bisson and Dr. Markoff stand in as judges a few times for them to practice.
Throughout the school year, they competed all over the state, winning several of the contests, as a team and as individuals. The only team to beat them all year was a team of seniors. It all came down to state finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 3. Brynn, Hailey and Darcy all finished in the top 5 for individuals, and the team dominated the state finals, winning all 3 parts of the contest and becoming State Champions!
This dedicated group of girls is already hard at work getting ready for the National contest that will take place in October in Louisville, KY. We have our work cut out for us, as the National contest adds in more practical skills for them to learn, as well as a group presentation, and more complicated test questions. I look forward to coaching them through the summer and accompanying them to KY as they give it their all to win a National title!
What a fantastic connection between school and community! I am soo pleased you agreed to work with these young people and their remarkable teacher. They are learning so much about the hands-on application of science concepts learned in class and their extension to a career area. Thank you for giving of your time in this way. You are making a real difference!