Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
Dr. Crystal Taylor
Veterinarian, owner, Centreville Animal Hospital, Centreville, VA
- Laurel Park High School, Henry County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Foundations of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Introduction to Animal Systems; Agricultural Production Technology; Agricultural Production Management; Operating the Farm Business; and Horticulture Science
- Additional studies: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences, Virginia Tech
Caring for animals
by Veronica Garabelli
Dr. Crystal Taylor has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a little girl, and participating in certain classes and activities during high school helped solidify her decision.
“In high school, I developed a love of animal husbandry and sciences, so it seemed like veterinary medicine would be the right fit for me,” she says.
Crystal, a veterinarian and owner at Centreville Animal Hospital, participated in the National FFA organization, which pro- motes leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education, and she took horticulture and agriculture classes. These activities not only helped set Crystal’s career path, they also aided in her studies later on. The horticulture and agriculture courses, for example, helped her identify plants for toxicology classes in veterinary school.
After high school, Crystal studied Ani- mal Sciences at Virginia Tech, where she continued to gain experience in the veterinary field. She volunteered and worked at Virginia Tech’s veterinary school and completed an apprenticeship with veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fisher. “There were many professors that were integral to my career and entrance to veterinary school at Virginia Tech,” she says.
Once she graduated from veterinary school, Crystal worked at several veterinary hospitals before purchasing Centreville Animal Hospital with her husband in 2011. She mostly works with dogs and cats, diagnosing diseases and administering treatments and medicine. “Extending the years that people have with their pets is a top priority,” Crystal says.
Even though she’s already a veterinarian, Crystal continues to further her education. Since graduating from veterinary school, she has completed training in veterinary ultrasound, rehabilitation, acupuncture, and pain management. “I would like to continue growing in this area of medicine,” Crystal says.
She advises high school students who are interested in becoming veterinarians to acquire different experiences in the field.
“Study hard to ensure great grades for entering veterinary school, even if the classes do not seem relative to your interest,” she says. “I find there is always something to be learned from the course work, a teacher, or a classmate.”
Horticulturalist, Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan
- Patrick County High School, Patrick County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Introduction to Plant Systems; Introduction to Animal Systems, Horticulture Sciences; Floriculture; Floral Design I and II; Greenhouse Plant Production and Management; Landscaping
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and Agriculture with a minor in Biology, Ferrum College; Virginia Pesticide Applicators License; endorsements in turf and ornamental pest control
Keeping it beautiful
by Jessica Sabbath
As horticulturalist of Primland Resort, Brandy Puckett over-sees the grounds of a serene 12-thousand-acre resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“Now I’m responsible for all the grounds but also interior plants, any new landscape designs and installations, and work very closely with our superintendent on the golf course,” says Brandy.
The resort is rapidly growing, giving Brandy ample new challenges. “We just finished opening four brand-new buildings, our Pinnacle Cottages, and I designed and installed the landscaping around that,” she says.
Brandy uses knowledge and skills she learned in the many agriculture-related courses she took in high school. “As far as pruning plants and proper spray techniques, all those things I learned when I was in high school,” she says of the hands-on high school courses.
Her high school Greenhouse Management and Floral Design classes also have been vital to her job because she’s in charge of the resort’s greenhouse and interior plants.
Brandy got her start at Primland as an intern helping maintain the resort’s golf course. After graduating from Ferrum College, she worked as a spray technician, then grounds maintenance super-visor at Primland before becoming a horticulturalist.
One aspect Brandy loves about her job is hearing guests compliment the landscaping. “It just makes you feel good whenever you hear people talking about how beautiful it is,” she says.
Her favorite part of her job is trying to identify plants – something she enjoyed doing in FFA career development events. “I spent two hours today trying to identify a plant that everyone wanted to know,” says Brandy. “There’s always something new and challenging. It’s not the same mundane thing every day.”
Allen Heishman II
Sales Representative, Bayer Animal Health, Edinburg
- Central High School, Shenandoah County Public Schools
- CTE studies : Agricultural Production
- Additional studies: B.A. in Animal and Poultry Science, Virginia Tech
Providing solutions to animal health
by Veronica Garabelli
Allen Heishman first caught the attention of his current boss while participating in a public speaking contest at a Virginia Future Farmers of America convention in Blacksburg.
“[I] never officially met him that day, but he thought I was a good speaker and watched me from then on,” says Allen, now a sales representative at Bayer Animal Health, where he sells medicine and insecticides for cattle, poultry, pigs, and horses in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and part of Pennsylvania.
Allen started participating in FFA in seventh grade. FFA is an organization that helps students develop leadership, career success, and personal growth through agricultural education. Allen also was required to participate in FFA and gain field experience as part of Central High School’s Agriculture Education program.
After graduating from high school, Allen became president of Virginia’s FFA chapter and earned his FFA degree, the highest level of state membership an FFA member can achieve. But that’s not the only degree Allen has under his belt. He also earned a degree in animal and poultry science from Virginia Tech and participated in the school’s Block and Bridle organization, a club for students interested in animal agriculture.
After college, Allen worked on a farm in New York for nine months but returned home after Bayer offered him his current job.
“Growing up, I always thought I wanted to get away, and when I was away I wanted to move back to the Valley and I wanted to farm. That was my opportunity to do two things at once: to have a good paycheck and farm,” says Allen, who also owns Heishman Cattle Co., a cattle-raising business.
Allen advises students to be active in high school, something that greatly affected his career path.
Allen encourages high schoolers to be open to all job opportunities. “There’s nothing more important to you than taking those opportunities and either learning something new, or trying something new because you don’t know where that’ll help you end up or lead you in the not so distant future,” Allen says.
The Career Clusters logo and its extensions are the property of the National Career Technical Foundation, as managed by NASDCTEc. Some content on this page is from the publication, R U College & Career Ready? - 2017 Edition; and is used here with permission from the Virginia Business Publications LLC and Trailblazers in the Demographics and Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.