KINGMAN - The animals at Kingman High School's Agriscience program will be stepping out in style next year.
The program recently got a $5,000 grant from the Western Arizona Vocational Education Joint Technical Education District to help purchase a new animal trailer. The grant is one of four $5,000 grants WAVE awarded to KHS and Lee Williams High School at its November meeting.
Sean Wright, the instructor for KHS' Agriscience and Welding Technologies programs, said the students are currently using a 1950s era animal trailer that his welding class has rebuilt once and is nearing the end of its useful life. The new trailer will cost around $11,500. The JTED will pay for half of it and the grant will cover the other half, he said.
"There are lot of students who take care of their animals at home instead of having them at the school," he said, "They don't usually have a way to transport their animals."
The new trailer will also be useful to students who do keep their animals at the school, Wright said. Some of these students are in a similar situation and have no way to transport animals to competitions.
The school's Agriscience program isn't just about breeding animals for show. Students are required to learn the different breeds of both small and large animals, such as dogs and horses; they have to be able to identify the parts of an animal inside and out; they learn about feed and feeding schedules; animal judging; basic veterinary skills; and genetics.
Animals aren't the only subjects studied in Wright's classes. Students also learn to weld and make repairs to equipment, grow plants, landscaping and irrigation techniques, chemistry, aquaculture (raising and taking care of fish), resume writing, and job applications and leadership skills.
His welding students also have the chance to have their classes count toward a degree at Mohave Community College and receive certification from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"It's a pretty well rounded program," Wright said. "Whatever they're interested in I try to push them in that direction."
Many of the students also participate in the school's Future Farmers of America chapter in contests as varied as job interviewing to fish filleting, Wright said. The club's veterinary technician team recently swept the top four places in individual competition and won the team competition at an event in Yuma.
At the competition, students had to correctly identify parasites and different animal breeds, identify the correct body temperature for each animal, find the pulse on an animal, show the correct way to restrain an animal, identify the different surgical instruments, shave and prep an animal for surgery and play a roll in a visit to a mock veterinarian office.
The Kingman Animal Hospital on Northern Avenue has been a big help in offering expertise and some equipment to the students, Wright said.
The team travels to the state competition this week. Last year, the team was one of the top five teams in the state, he said.
The FFA agriculture mechanics, horse judging, job interview and aquaculture teams also placed in the top five teams in the state last year.
The FFA teams are also responsible for raising the money necessary to travel to the various competitions, he said.
"I'm trying to prep them for the real world," Wright said. "When they go out of this high school I want them to be able to function in the real world, so a lot of the programs are very hands-on."
"I want them to go on to college. 'I don't have the money to go to college' is not an excuse to me," he said.
There are many scholarships available through the FFA and the various schools, Wright said. He knows. He got a full ride through college by competing for scholarships in rodeo and roping events.
Wright still competes in roping events and is planning a trip to the national team roping competition in Las Vegas this year. He also teaches roping and rodeo events to students after school and advises the school's rodeo club.
If a student decides college is not for them, they still have the skills to compete in the job market, Wright said.
"My whole purpose is to get the kids to believe in themselves," he said.