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Two students show how involvement can jumpstart a career

Alisa Anderson Published on 25 August 2009

Brenda Arnold of Drexel, Missouri, can tell other young people that being involved in the agriculture industry is important for success in a dairy career -- because she knows from experience.

Even when she was little, Arnold wanted to be involved with the family's work on their dairy, beef and crop operation.

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"I was always the kid that was wanting to be in the middle of everything, even if I wasn't doing any good. Every time the vet came I would hold the I.V. bottles. When I was little I would try to get a hold of the chains and pull the calves," Arnold says.

Brad, one of Brenda's two older brothers, was the most influential person in her life and inspired her to be more involved.

"Brad was really active in 4-H and FFA. He was president of our club and of our chapter. I saw him doing all that stuff and having all that fun, and of course I wanted to be just like him. I was never very far behind him when I saw all the things he was getting to do," Arnold says.

Arnold became actively involved in FFA. From 2007 to 2008 she was the Missouri State FFA vice president. This experience stretched her.

"I started out a very, very shy kid. To be able to step out of my box that much and become the person I am was probably my greatest accomplishment. There were a lot of times while I was a state and area officer when I wanted to give up and say, 'No, I'm not going to do that," Arnold says.

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Arnold volunteered at the local veterinary clinic in Drexel last summer and worked herself into a 40-hour-per-week internship for this summer where she'll be helping with surgeries, farm calls, emergencies and keeping records and inventory. She feels that this has broadened her experience with people and animals beyond just what she has seen on her family farm.

One reason to be involved is to build a support system that can help you achieve your career, Arnold says. If they see you involved in the industry and achieving, they are willing to be supportive.

"People do watch and if they see you in the paper for doing crazy things, that doesn't make a very good impression," she says.

Arnold is currently in her senior year at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is planning to go to veterinary school this fall. When she graduates she wants to return to her home town as a large animal vet. She has also been involved with the Farm Bureau and local 4-H club and is currently a member of Collegiate Cattlewomen. She recently was the recipient of the Dairy Farmers of America's annual $1,500 scholarship.

Megan Schrupp, a current veterinary student at the University of Minnesota, was also a 2009 DFA scholarship recipient. She attributes her success to involvement in the dairy industry.

Getting involved has led her to some great learning experiences. In 2006 she was on the team representing the University of Minnesota for the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge. "Having the chance to go out and see a whole different area of the dairy industry was just awesome. Meeting people that work out there every day was eye-opening," she says.

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Schrupp continues to look for ways to be involved so that she can be better prepared for her career by doing things outside of the classroom. Last summer she did research on cell-mediated immunity in dairy calves with a veterinarian, which she says she really enjoyed.

This year she is taking a community class to learn Spanish so she can better communicate with Latino dairy laborers. She is involved in the Production Animal Medicine Club, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the University of Minnesota Mentor program and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. Schrupp and her husband, Tim, enjoy showing Guernsey heifers at local fairs.

"Involvement will lead you in directions that you hadn't thought of before and can lead to some great opportunities," she says. PD

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