Vandegrift veterinary science team goes to nationals

The Vandegrift FFA veterinary science team is bound for nationals this month and was recognized at the Aug. 23 Leander ISD school board meeting. L-R: Magan Escamilla (advisor), Camille Barkhuizen (12th), Madeleine Rawlings (11th), Lauren Stevens (11th) and Zach Roush (12th).

By SUMERLYN YUDELL, Vandegrift Voice

Winning the state championship is a goal every team and club at Vandegrift has, fortunately, the FFA veterinary science team achieved this goal in April against 1,600 other vet science teams in Texas.

The 2018 vet science team consist of seniors Zach Roush and Camille Barkhuizen, as well as juniors Madeleine Rawlings and Lauren Stevens; they are coached by the agricultural sciences teacher, Magan Escamilla.

“We were first out of 1,600 teams in Texas, that was pretty crazy,” Roush said. “After we got the plaque, everyone was freaking out and half the team was crying.”

Later this month, the team will travel to Indianapolis to represent the state of Texas at the national FFA veterinary science competition to be held at the 91st national FFA convention on Oct. 23-27.

“What we are doing is going into a competition with all 50 states with a representative from each state, we are the Texas team,”  Roush said.

The VHS team will deliver a presentation over feline health and give their recommendations on what they would do for the patient as if they were part of a veterinary health care team. Team members will also perform eight skills practicums before judges with four clinical and the other four, handling/restraint.

“When you look at what these students have to know to do this and do it well, it’s impressive,” Escamilla said. “We compete against some programs that have fully operational veterinary clinics within their school walls.”

The Vipers have been practicing since early August for the national competition.

“This competition is a lot broader and instead of three events (like) we had at the state competition, we have 32,” Roush said. “It’s a lot more memorization, and vet-related, industry related stuff such as news, team activities and team events.”

Much like in the Texas contest, the team will also be identifying parasites, instruments, and breeds of animals this time also answering questions about the use of the instruments and the life cycles of the parasites. Additionally, students must take a veterinary knowledge exam with content from over a dozen textbooks and reference materials, take a veterinary math practicum test, and write an essay over the opioid shortage that is occurring in the industry.

The contest will span two days and there will be an awards banquet on Oct. 27 with the victorious teams walking the national stage.

“The only downside to making it to nationals is you can’t compete in vet next year,” Barkhuizen said. “You have already technically mastered the skill.”

For the team to go to nationals, it will take over $6,000 between airfare, registration and hotel costs. The VHS FFA alumni is seeking sponsors of all types at a GoFundMe campaign under “Vandegrift-FFA-National-Bound”.

The 2017 Vandegrift FFA vet science team missed nationals by a single point last year so the team was able to come back stronger than ever for this year’s contest.

“Zach and Madeline were on this team last year, so they are a little bit more prepared for what’s to come,” Barkhuizen said.

Before nationals the team went to 11 individual contest, along with area contest and the state contest.

Roush and Barkhuizen both said they owe part of their success to their teacher, Escamilla. They added that they will use the information they learned and the hard work it took them to get here.

“FFA has definitely given me guidelines and a path to follow with livestock and industry with the vet world.” Roush said.

Their teacher agrees.

“They have the grit it takes to become future veterinarians and I’m confident we will see them do so,” Escamilla said. “I cannot fully express how proud I am of this team.”