Amber Legore, 17, has been interning at the Eldersburg Veterinary Hospital since late January and her dreams of becoming a veterinarian out west were becoming more clear as she prepared for her Thursday, June 7, high school graduation.
Legore credits South Carroll High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter, 4-H and her family for instilling in her a passion for all things agriculture — she has participated in FFA since she was a freshman, and in 4-H for 10 years, continuing a family tradition of showing animals.
“I want to be large animal vet in Wyoming or Montana with a big ranch in the middle of nowhere,” said Legore in mid-May, sitting outside the Winfield Volunteer Fire Company — where her father is the assistant volunteer fire chief and her mother is a secretary — reflecting on her internship at the hospital.
“Like, 1,000 acres, no people. I just want to live in ag,” she said. “I just live, breathe ag, and being at the internship and seeing all the stuff that I’ve seen through FFA at state convention and national convention, it just opened up: This is what I really want to do.”
Within the past four years, Legore has focused much of her attention on participating in her school’s FFA chapter competing in various subjects — including extemporaneous speaking, agricultural sales, horticulture and floriculture — and was president this year and an officer for three years before that.
She has also been caring for her pigs, Blue and Sassy, and her sheep at her aunt’s house in Taneytown to prepare them for fairs. After years of practice, she’s got her technique down to a science, Legore said.
“People say, ‘Why do you feed your pigs marshmallows?’ ” she laughed. “How do you expect me to get a 300-pound pig that’s stubborn as a mule to get on a trailer? Marshmallow, let’s go. Or a supplement we put in their feed closer to fair, they will run you over for it!”
In the fall, Legore plans to delve deeper into her field when she starts her Bachelor in Animal Science and pre-veterinary program at Northwest Missouri State University.
At Eldersburg Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Laura Owens has been overseeing Legore’s work and development. Owens said she also appreciates the value of a good internship because she interned at the same hospital before becoming a doctor there.
“We love having our interns because they are really fast learners,” she said one May morning at the hospital as Legore organized paperwork and gave a dog, Lucy, a treat after she was seen for an eye condition.
Legore’s dark blonde hair was up in a ponytail, and she wore black and purple scrubs with flowers printed on her shirt.
“She knows how to do blood work, set up samples, restrain animals,” Owens said. “[Amber] could probably list antibiotics and vaccines, and it’s going to be helpful. Now some people [graduating from veterinary school] have never worked in a hospital beforehand, and they don’t know how to draw blood from a cat.
“I know that it is worth it to teach you,” she said to Legore, “because it will really help you.”
Terry Adkins, Legore’s internship adviser and agriscience teacher, said she agrees the South Carroll senior has amassed a vast set of practical skills and knowledge that will make her future educational pursuits a little bit easier.
“She really has grown during the course of the internship,” Adkins said. “She can kind of anticipate the needs of what’s going to happen next without asking. If you did not know she was a student there working at the vet, you'd think she was one of their employees. She’s confident enough in her skills; she can work independently.”
And even though Legore doesn’t want to be a small animal vet — working with mainly dogs and cats — and wants to work with sheep, pigs and cattle like she has been her whole life through 4-H and FFA, she said the diverse experience will be good for her in the long run.
“Dr. Laura Owens, I will say she is my favorite vet because I absolutely love working with her,” Legore said. “She’s taught me so much. She’s the one that will actually explain things and dumb it down for me since nobody in my family is in the vet field — they are fire department or flower, so this is a new avenue for me.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping animals,” she said, “and then with showing and internship and everything, I’ve learned this is definitely what I want to do. I don’t care how much it costs; this is what I’m going to do.”