IVET program fueled success for vet career


Many students considering veterinary medicine shy away once they learn of the educational commitment, but Sayre set a course and carried it through. She began her eight-year stint of higher education at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield through a scholarship competing on the livestock judging team.

From there she completed a bachelor’s degree and Veterinary Medicine school at the University of Illinois. Sayre told FarmWeek even though she enjoyed school, veterinary classes were a challenge.

“It’s kind of like being fed with a water hose. They throw all the information at you eight hours a day, five days a week in different classes and labs,” she said. “It’s tough, but it was worth it.”

The associated cost is another reason some students choose a different path. Sayre said she spent a lot of time applying for scholarships and benefitted from Illinois Farm Bureau’s Illinois Veterinary Education and Training (IVET) loan program.

IVET offers low interest loans up to $40,000 to second-year vet students attending an accredited college of veterinary medicine in the U.S. and focusing on Illinois food animal medicine. Recipients also receive a stipend to help with clinical rotation expenses.

“That loan has a lower interest rate compared to the standard loans that you can get and that did alleviate some of my financial burden,” she said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but that lower interest rate makes a big difference.”

2024 marks Sayre’s fifth year in the field full-time. She is an associate veterinarian at Fairbury Veterinary Hospital and Livestock Health Services in Livingston County where she works with a variety of small and large animals.

Sayre also enjoys connecting with other veterinarians. “I went to a conference back in February and I feel like there’s a lot of camaraderie,” she said. “That’s probably what keeps me the most motivated.”

She encourages current vet students not to give up. “Keep your head up, lean on your mentors and keep working harder.”

She said the most challenging part for her was putting the book knowledge to real life use during clinical rotations.

“It’s really tough and especially as a new grad coming out of school the first year, there’s a really steep learning curve. At that point you still kind of feel like you know nothing,” Sayre added. “But it does get better. One day it finally clicks and you gain that confidence in knowing how to talk to clients and work with producers.”

Sayre said she sees a lifelong future for her in the veterinary medicine field especially as she and her husband expand their own cattle herd.

“I really enjoy the fact that I don’t know what I’m getting into on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I could see a lot of things on any particular day, but really helping out clients and livestock owners is probably my favorite part.”

She said mentors, like the veterinarian she grew up watching on her parent’s farm, help motivate her to succeed in the industry. “My boss at the first clinic that I worked at; I still think back to a lot of things that she taught me.”


Applications for the 2024 Illinois Farm Bureau IVET program are open through May 15 online at ilfb.org/IVET.



Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.