Vandegrift FFA vet science team advances to nationals

The Vandegrift floriculture team qualified for state with 3rd place floral team at the area contest. L-R: Makinna Pritchard, Ashley Burton, Magan Escamilla, advisor, Noel Attwood and Sydney Kuykendoll.

Makes history at VHS and LISD


The Vandegrift FFA’s floriculture and vet science teams both competed in the State Career Development Event at Texas A&M University on April 28, and vet science placed first by less that a point.

“Last year the Vandegrift vet science team got 2nd place and missed nationals by a single point,” said Magan Escamilla, VHS agriscience teacher and FFA advisor. “This year, if you can believe it, the contest was even closer with 1st and 2nd place only being separated by .667 points.”

The vet science team — Lauren Stevens, Madeleine Rawlings, Natalie Kelliher and Zach Roush — will compete at the national contest held in Indianapolis Oct. 24 – 27.

Attending the national competition is groundbreaking for not only Vandegrift, but all of LISD.

“We are the first CDE team to go to nationals in LISD history,” said Roush, who ranked in the top 10 high-scoring individuals by getting the 5th highest score.

“The most challenging part of the competition was identifying,” said Roush, a VHS junior. “Our team members individually identify different breeds of livestock, horses, poultry, dogs, cats, reptiles and small animals. We identify many almost identical parasites and parasite eggs, along with that we identify different organs in livestock, and companion animals. Lastly, we identify tools used the the veterinary world.”

In addition, they take a veterinary science exam during the competition, perform clinical skills in front of a judge, and complete a math practicum that can include things such as dilution or drug cost calculation, Escamilla said.

Prior to the state competition, Viper FFA students have traveled to 11 invitationals. At the Cy Creek Invitational CDE contest earlier this year, for example, the Viper FFA entomology team placed second. The contest included 25 insect specimens and a 25 question exam but the team studied 150 insects and 250 questions to prepare.

On April 18, VHS secured 4th place in the Area 7 state-qualifying contest at Tarleton State University.

“Qualifying for state already means the team represents the top 15 percent of the state’s teams,” Escamilla said.The vet science team has been training all year to be successful.  

“We’ve had practice two-three times a week starting at 7 a.m. since early January,” Roush said. “I’ve also spent countless hours taking practice tests and teaching myself helpful clues and hints when identifying breeds, parasites, organs and instruments.”

Nationals will require more rigorous and in-depth training to be successful.  

“For nationals there will definitely be many many practices over the summer,” Rawlings said. “We will follow our regular strategies but go into deeper depth because what we have been doing so far has been working out really well.”

“Nationals is going to take a lot more practice and memorizing of not only the material we know, “ Kelliher said. “But also new material and events that are specific to the national competition like a group skills practicum performance.”

At nationals, there will be one representative team from every state competing for cash prizes, scholarship opportunities, and the title of best vet science team in the country.  

Vandegrift FFA will represent the whole, great state of Texas at the national contest,” Escamilla said. “I am so proud of these students!”

Lynette Haaland contributed to this article.

FFA vet science team advances

Zach Roush, 11th
Madeleine Rawlings, 10th
Natalie Kelliher, 12th
Lauren Stevens, 10th

The Vandegrift vet science
L-R: Natalie Kelliher, Lauren Stevens, Madeleine Rawlings, Magan Escamilla, advisor, and Zach Roush.