I spent May 11-13 in Richland, WA for the FFA State Veterinary Science Career Development Event (CDE) contest. What an impressive event. A record number of teams, 51, and individuals, 230, competed from around the state. When it started 11 years ago, nobody could have imagined that it would become the most popular CDE in FFA. The state winning team gets invited to compete in the National contest in Indianapolis the following Fall.
The beauty of the contest is that it introduces many high school kids to the potential careers in animal care and veterinary medicine. It also encourages interaction and mentorship between local veterinarians and students. I, for one, have been blessed by being part of this contest since its inception 11 years ago.
This year’s winning team is from Stanwood High School. Their FFA Advisor, Margaret Olson, has done a wonderful job with her veterinary science curriculum in preparing her students to perform very well at next fall’s national contest.
Megan Cihak DVM, WSU 2019, participated in the first contest in 2012. It led her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. During her last two years of vet school she coordinated the contest and has continued to do so upon her graduation. She’s done an outstanding job. She also recruits other veterinary and WSU volunteers to help setup and judge portions of the contest. According to Megan, “The Veterinary Science CDE has proven to be highly competitive in Washington, and this year drew in a record number of teams/students participating, as well as being the largest CDE at the state level. I feel so proud of where this contest is and look forward to the challenge of constantly improving it to make the student experience the best it can be. At the end of the day, I don’t expect all of these students to become veterinarians, veterinary technicians, receptionists, etc. (though I hope they do!), but each and every student should know what it means to work hard, challenge themselves, work as a team to solve problems and support each other, and have a great time.” She continues, “I think most veterinary professionals will agree that we are in a critical era right now of determining what the future looks like in an industry where many of us suffer from mental health issues, burnout, client distrust, etc. What better way to ensure the future success of our profession than to invest our time and energy in the skills and interest of the upcoming generation?”
In addition to Megan, special thanks go to Dr. Alyssa Rasweiler and Dr. Timothy and Cynthia Cuchna who worked with our team presenting skills.
Megan and I encourage you to take the opportunity to mentor, hire, or give presentations to your local FFA Veterinary science team! You may be mentoring your next associate or vet tech!
By Jacob Steiger, DVM, owner of Mt. Baker Veterinary & Embryo Transfer Services, Lynden
Photo Credit: Washington FFA, used with permission