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Orting High School VetTech Program Prepares High School Students For Future Careers
It only took learning that junior Lily Merrill would get to work with animals and she was hooked on attending the Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine courses within the budding Agricultural Program at Orting High School. She had heard her teacher, Mia Gum, share her experience of being a vet assistant and was curious, but was too shy to ask. So, she took a leap of faith and joined the after-school club that would lead to many new experiences, new friends, and a real-world job as a vet assistant at her local animal hospital.
“My agriculture class and the FFA (Future Farmers of America) have changed my life,” Lily shares. “I have grown so much as a leader, as a student, and now as a working young adult. I am so much more confident in myself and now I can use all of the stuff I learned in class and on the VetTech Team in a real job.”
Lily was also a part of the first ever Orting FFA Veterinary Science team that attended state competitions this past year. At her competition, Lily had to identify breeds of animals and tools, complete a written exam, a math test that quizzed her ability to know how much dosage of medicine an animal needs, how to properly inject medicine, and more. “[After attending the competitions] I was inspired,” Lily states. “My eyes were opened to a whole new world of vet science.” She is excited to attend again this upcoming year and do even better with her new experiences and team.
OHS VetTech Team stand together for a photo at state competitions.
As for her teacher, she couldn’t be more proud. “Lily definitely started out so quiet and shy, never speaking in class. Just a curious student that thought playing with stuffed animals would be fun,” Mia Gum, Orting High Schools’ Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, says her class practices veterinary techniques on stuffed animals. “[Lily] ended up being so dedicated and put 100 percent into the VetTech Team and Orting FFA Chapter as a whole. She is currently the OFFA Chapter Sentinel and has been growing her leadership skills, speaking skills, and instilling others with that same blue and goal passion with her success story!”
OHS VetTech team and agriculture teacher Mia Gum.
Lily, now with new skills and experience under her belt, practices what she has learned at her new job. “[Orting’s VetTech team and FFA] is preparing me for my future career. I wouldn’t have stepped out of my comfort zone and applied if I didn’t already have some experience.”
The goal of the VetTeach class is for students to eventually work in the real world as interns at local vet clinics, which will open doors to real-world opportunities, promote work-based skills, trades, and certifications.
Junior Lily Merrill holds up a graphic that her and her class created. | Lily Merrill and agriculture teacher Mia Gum practice injecting a stuffed dog.