PEMBERVILLE – Three Eastwood High School seniors are heading west to start their ag-related careers, and two of the three will be participating in collegiate livestock judging.
Ashlyn O’Brien, Owen Brinker and Jamie Lahey have each picked a path west of the Mississippi River for their college careers.
O’Brien is heading to Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, to study animal science with the goal of going into livestock embryology with a specialization in sheep breeding.
Lahey is going to West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, and will major in ag education. She said she may return to Ohio and get a law degree from Ohio State University with the goal of becoming an agriculture lawyer.
Brinker will attend Conners State College in Warner, Oklahoma, to major in animal science and minor in ruminant nutrition, which is specific to animals that have four chambers in their stomach. He plans to use his studies in ruminant nutrition to work with feed companies to develop different rations for feed lots.
O’Brien picked a school out west because there is more of a focus on agriculture.
“You still get a lot in Ohio, but if you go out west it is just all ag driven,” she said. “They have good reputations at these schools and I just think they’ll set me up for success.”
O’Brien said she may consider furthering her education at Kansas State or Iowa State, which are both four-year universities.
Brinker said as he and O’Brien grew up, they had the same dream of going out west to judge livestock.
They picked different schools “because they fit each other’s needs,” he said.
Brinker and O’Brien both got scholarships to compete of the livestock judging teams at their colleges.
Lahey will run track and field at West Texas.
She said she checked every school within 500 miles of Eastwood for one that offers an outstanding cross country program as well as ag. She found none.
“Ohio doesn’t have enough Division II ag schools,” Lahey said.
She Googled ag schools, Division II and cross country and West Texas was at the top.
“It depends on where you work,” Lahey said about the demand for ag lawyers. “Around here I would deal with more estate planning and farmers’ wills.”
“A lot of non-ag lawyers don’t really know how to deal with people in agriculture.”
Lahey said she has been interested in the field of law since she was young.
“I like arguing with my dad and (family) said I was really good at it when I was really young.”
This year Lahey participated as a prosecuting attorney in mock trials.
All three have College Credit Plus credits that will transfer.
For Brinker, Oklahoma felt like home and was somewhere he saw himself being successful. He also is considering going on to a four-year school at either Oklahoma State or Kansas State, with the intent to continue on a livestock judging team.
O’Brien said growing up she was in a good 4-H program and was introduced to going out west, getting out of her comfort zone and creating her own path.
Both O’Brien and Brinker have been involved with county 4-H livestock judging. She has competed in national events in Kansas and North Carolina and both traveled to Pennsylvania last year.
O’Brien is best at judging cattle yet she shows sheep; Brinker raises sheep but is best at goats.
O’Brien is a member of the Livin’ Livestock 4-H Club while Lahey and Brinker are members of Livestock Unlimited.
All three are officers with Eastwood FFA: Brinker is president, O’Brien is vice president and Lahey is student adviser.
“I feel like you have to learn more in FFA, but 4-H makes you involved,” Lahey said in comparing the two organizations.
In 4-H, you get what you put into it, she added.
In FFA, they are doing job interviews and building resumes, O’Brien said.
O’Brien works at B&K Cattle Company in Bowling Green while Brinker works on the family farm and operates his own auto detailing business.
“Brinker Auto Detailing. Look me up on Facebook,” he said with a laugh.
Lahey works at Pee Wee Dari Snak in Stony Ridge.
Their return home to the Eastwood community is unknown.
“It depends on where I get a job,” O’Brien said.
Brinker wouldn’t mind coming home and applying the knowledge learned in college.
Lahey plans to leave with an open mind with no set plans on returning home.
“I think that’s really important, to just go and see what happens and let it take you. …” she said.