AHPS Ag Program Leads Graduate to Successful Career Path

AHPS Ag Program Leads Graduate to Successful Career Path
Posted on 06/20/2023

LOW MOOR — A recent Alleghany High School graduate credits the school’s agriculture program for leading him to a successful career path.

Hayden Moser of Clifton Forge graduated this spring from Blue Ridge Community College with an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. He is now considering job opportunities with two veterinary practices.

Hayden graduated from AHS in 2021. He was highly active in the school’s Future Farmers of America Chapter, serving as an officer for three years. It was during this time that he discovered his career ambition thanks to a class taught by Teresa Reed, who oversees the school’s agriculture program.

“It all started with the Small Animal Care II class,” Hayden said. “We were going over jobs in agriculture one week … and it got into the profession of veterinary medicine. My original choice was to be a veterinarian.”

But after considering the commitment and cost of spending eight years of required study to become a veterinarian, Hayden decided to become a veterinary technician. The demand for veterinary technicians is outpacing most jobs in the U.S. According to the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2021 and 2031.

Hands-on learning in AHS’ ag program and at Blue Ridge Community College helped convince Hayden that he was on the right career path. Agriculture falls under Career and Technical Education classes offered by Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. CTE exposes students to a world of opportunity by combining classroom instruction with hands-on experience to meet the changing demands of top-growing industries.

“I would advise any student to go and work in a setting that involves the career they are considering. You need to know if you can handle it before you start your journey and pay a lot of money for college or other training,” Hayden said.  

As a student at Blue Ridge, Hayden gained hands-on experience at Greenbrier Veterinary Hospital, which is based in Lewisburg, W.Va. The animal hospital operates an outpatient clinic in Covington. 

“I did what they call an externship. They made us go and practice the skills they taught us. I worked under a veterinarian and she evaluated me and sent her evaluation back to Blue Ridge Community College. A veterinary technician also evaluated me,” he said.

With his degree now in hand, Hayden is considering job offers that involve working with small animals. 

“I am more interested in working in large animal medicine as we have a shortage of large animal veterinarians across the U.S. The large animal veterinarians are mostly equine,” he said.

Hayden recently returned to AHS to share his advice with a group of students that attended an FFA meeting in the school library. The school’s FFA chapter has about 50 members. FFA is a career and technical student organization (CTSO) based on middle school and high school classes that promote and support agriculture education. More than a typical school club, CTSOs are designed to serve as students’ first professional organizations.  

“I kind of talked Hayden into coming to FFA when he was a student here,” Reed said. “Once he came on board, he became an officer. I could count on him for anything.”

Hayden is part of a growing list of AHS students who are choosing to pursue careers in animal science.

“I had one student who is actually going to pursue becoming a veterinarian … She's going to Virginia Tech in the fall. I had another student who wants to work with large animals and she is going to Randolph College in Lynchburg in the fall. I had another student, she’s not going to become a veterinarian, but she’s going to Virginia Tech in the fall to study animal science. She is going to pursue something related to management. She currently works for Johnson Cattle  Company. She is actually running the farm,” Reed said.

Students interested in the agriculture program at AHS should talk to their guidance counselor or contact Reed at [email protected].

The Alleghany County Public Schools Division was created through the July 1, 2022, merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center. The school division serves approximately 2,700 students. It is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington.

School division news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools, and the AHPS website at www.ahps.k12.va.us.
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