My Future Career in Rural Health in Virginia

By David Hardesty, Jr.

David Hardesty of Berryville captured first prize in the Virginia Farm Bureau’s essay contest on health-related careers in agriculture. Congratulations, David!


My desire to study agriculture and pursue a career in it is quite simple—living in an agricultural community is all I have ever known. I grew up on a dairy farm and can honestly  say that the experience has shaped my life. Growing up on a farm has taught me so many life lessons that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. Throughout my life I have learned to be a hard worker. This has helped me strive to do my best in sports and in the classroom, working hard every day in practice  and always getting my homework done.

I also learned, at a young age, how to cooperate with others even if I don’t agree with them. On the farm, if we don’t cooperate then some jobs are almost impossible to complete. Another lesson that farm life taught me is that no matter the circumstances, you have to keep going. No matter how bad a day I am having, I have to keep working because cows do not wait for the work to be done.

Both of my older brothers went to college and came back to contribute to our family farm. We are a tight-knit family, and I also want to be able to be a part of our farm. Rather than coming directly back to the farm I have decided to become a large animal veterinarian. I chose this career because I have found that I truly have a love for working with animals. For many years now I have wanted to become  a veterinarian so I could help the animals when they were sick. This career allows me to stay outdoors and work around the animals that I love.

I began to gain experience by observing the veterinarian that  works with my farm. Mostly, she has allowed me to assist her with herd checks; however, she has also allowed me to help her with some minor  surgeries. I have already called veterinarians, both large animal and small, and set up shadowing opportunities at their clinics this summer. I believe that these opportunities will allow me to be more prepared for the undergraduate and graduate  programs I am pursuing.

After graduating from high school I will attend college and graduate  school for veterinary studies. In my undergraduate program I plan to major in pre-veterinarian studies and take all of the pre-requisite classes that I need for graduate school. After graduating from graduate school, I plan to join a practice in the Northern Virginia area, and eventually save up funds to start my own practice. As I practice as a veterinarian, I still want to remain a part of our family  farm, and also serve other  farmers in Clarke County.

I not only love the outdoors and animals, but I also love the people that are involved  in agriculture. In my life, I have met so many people through agriculture that are so caring and nice. These people  enjoy their careers in agriculture and will lend a helping hand anytime you ask. It is people like this that make me want to stay in the agriculture community and have a career in it.

Agriculture has given me so much and contributed to my life in endless ways. I hope that one day I can contribute to the field that has had such an impact on my life.