Five years ago, ten or 12 teams competed; this year 28 Future Farmers of America (FFA) teams from across Oklahoma came to OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences to compete in the Veterinary Science Career Development Event (CDE). The winning chapter goes on to represent Oklahoma in the FFA national CDE competition.
“The contest involves a multitude of activities,” explained Dr. Danielle Dugat, assistant professor of small animal surgery and co-superintendent of the CDE. “There are five parts to the competition. Students perform acts that they would have to do as a veterinarian or a veterinary technician, such as administering a subcutaneous injection, placing an Elizabethan-collar on a dog, placing a tail tie on a cow, or filling a prescription. They also take a written exam which tests their knowledge on animal science topics and a math exam doing conversions and figuring dosages for administering medications. Another section tests their ability to identify instruments, breeds, and parasites. Lastly, each team performs a skit on a designated topic that they are given in advance. This year’s topic is a dairy goat with CAE or caprine arthritis encephalitis. Each part of the CDE is individually scored and those scores are compiled for a team score that determines the winner.”
Dugat is responsible for arranging the judges, acquiring the instruments, securing the rooms and coordinating the execution of the CDE. Co-superintendent Dr. Blake Wilson, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, helps Dugat during the 5-hour competition.
“I like how well rounded the contest is. There are a lot of different things going on. It makes it challenging getting the students all shuffled around to all those different stations,” stated Wilson. “About 80 percent of our incoming students to the animal science program are pre-vet. So it’s a chance to see and interact with some of those students who hopefully will be coming to OSU in a year or two when they graduate high school. Then a percentage of them will hopefully apply and be accepted into the veterinary program at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and ultimately become veterinarians.”
“The nice thing about this contest is that high school students get to be involved in a unique aspect of FFA, which is veterinary medicine,” added Dugat. “They get exposed to many different techniques, procedures, and knowledge within the veterinary curriculum. So students, who may have an interest in veterinary medicine, can develop that interest further and get hands-on experience of what it would be like to become a veterinary technician or veterinarian.”
“Our student demographics have changed a lot,” continued Wilson. “We don’t have kids with a traditional production agriculture or animal background, but they have the interest. This is a contest that is going to attract a different type of student than some of our more traditional state CDE contests. It’s another avenue to target a different group of students, get them involved, and show them what we have to offer here at OSU.”
Students attending this year’s competition came from both rural and city schools.
“We have Claremore, Jenks and Stillwater, which are big schools, down to small schools like Billings or Oolagah,” said Dugat. “To successfully run this competition requires a lot of volunteers. The judges are a combination of veterinarians who work here at the veterinary school, veterinary students, or technicians who work in the Veterinary Medical Hospital. This allows for a variety of expertise in volunteers who get involved and engage these high school students.”
“I’ve been in FFA in Texas before, but this is my first year here in Claremore FFA,” said Katelyn Lawson from Claremore High School. “A lot of people seem happy and excited for the competition. Everyone’s smiling at each other, giving each other a thumbs up and good luck. I want to be a veterinarian and that’s why I’m in FFA Vet Science.”
Seth Stone from Chandler, Okla., has similar aspirations.
“I have been in FFA two years. I like being around animals and participating in the Vet Science competition,” said Stone. “My grandpa is a veterinarian and my brothers and I have a sheep flock to take care of. I’m looking to become a large animal veterinarian in the future.”
But not all students participating plan to go into veterinary medicine. Of the four person team from Locust Grove, Okla., one plans to be a wildlife biologist or pathologist, one a cosmetologist, one plans to attend OSU IT in Okmulgee, and one plans to be a veterinarian specializing in equine medicine.
“It’s a great contest and we look forward to it every year,” said Wilson. “It’s fun to have kids from all over the state come to campus and compete. We like the opportunity to work with them and expose them to what we do here before they hopefully attend college in Stillwater.”
“It’s been a blast,” echoed Dugat. “Every year we are gaining more and more participants. It allows for collaboration between the veterinary college, animal science, and the high schools for future development of the veterinary program.”
Congratulations to the 2017 Veterinary Science Career Development Event winners: Weatherford, first place; Billings, second place; and Colcord, third place. Weatherford FFA will represent Oklahoma competing in the national competition to be held October 25-28, 2017, in Indianapolis, Ind.