Ava Willoughby recently got a taste of being a veterinarian when she had to care for her sick goat, Lupe, through the night.
“We had to give her medicine throughout the night, every four hours,” said the eighth grader, who watched Lupe recover and regain her appetite.
Ava loves the feeling of helping animals and plans to make that her career.
“I like being around animals, and I feel like that’s what makes me happy,” she said of her desire to be a veterinarian for both big and small animals.
HireSmart Cares wants Ava to thrive in that role. So HireSmart steps in with support for Ava and many other youth aiming to gain skills now for a brighter tomorrow.
For instance, the nonprofit is covering the cost of an ag barn expansion in Madison County, Georgia so kids who don’t live on a farm can learn to care for livestock. HireSmart also funds ag-related scholarships and a variety of grants for youth interested in ag careers.
Ava was able to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the National FFA Convention in October with financial assistance from HireSmart for lodging, travel, and fees.
She said she enjoyed the trip and had a chance to hear from a variety of people about their agricultural backgrounds.
“It was fun, definitely really cold,” said Ava about the convention. “We had a lot of entertainment. We went to the zoo and then we had our sessions where we went and listened to people talk about their experiences.”
The daughter of Josh and Brandi and the third of four children is in her first year showing goats with FFA. Ava has two goats, Peaches and Lupe, and will soon add a third, Ginga.
“A few of my friends show, and I thought it would be really fun, and since goats aren’t the hardest to show for your first year,” she said. “The cows take a lot of work, probably double the time you spend with a goat.”
Still, Ava said she will probably show cows during high school.
“I’ve thought about having a cow,” she said. “I don’t feel like I want to do it right now, but I definitely want to when I’m in high school.”
Ava participates on the middle school livestock judging team, learning to perform market evaluations.
“If you’re judging your market animals for the meat, you want them to be bigger, and you don’t want them to be fat,” she said. “You want them to be bigger and muscular. And then for the breeding, you want them to have a good structure so they can hold up when carrying (offspring).”
She’s also a middle school FFA officer this year, serving as the parliamentarian.
“We’ll do a slideshow of how agriculture relates to what we’re talking about in that meeting,” said Ava. “The last meeting we did basketball. We stayed for the middle school basketball game, and I did a slideshow over how that related to agriculture.”
She talked with fellow FFA members about how the basketball flooring is hardwood, the ball is made from cowhide, and the first-ever basketball goals were peach baskets.
Ava smiles when talking about animals, including her dogs, Ivy and Banjo, and she’s looking forward to a future looking out for all creatures big and small as a veterinarian.
HireSmart aims to help Ava and her peers take those steps to success, making the future brighter for all.
Ava’s mom, Brandi, said she’s grateful for the support.
“Being able to attend the National FFA Convention was definitely a privilege, said Brandi. “Ava was able to gain a larger perspective of the FFA organization and the opportunities it can provide. We are grateful that HireSmart Cares was willing to help provide Ava with an opportunity to expand her knowledge and build upon her success with FFA and her future endeavors.”
If you’re interested in helping HireSmart support youth like Ava through a wide variety of workforce development initiatives, click here to contribute.