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Klinghagen delves into science

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Worland – “I think FFA is really valuable to me because it’s provided me with not only career options but also ways for me to develop who I am as a person and where my interests are,” says Chief Washakie FFA member Callie Klinghagen.

Klinghagen moved to Worland from Iowa four years ago and soon joined the local FFA chapter. Despite not growing up actively involved with agriculture, she soon jumped into trying as many Career Development Events (CDEs) as possible, notes Chief Washakie FFA Advisor Grace Godfrey.

Klinghagen’s involvement with FFA and with her agriscience fair project on the effects of antibiotics on brucellosis vaccine RB51 efficacy has influenced her future career plans of becoming a large animal veterinarian.

The question

Klinghagen performed a study on the brucellosis vaccine RB51 to determine whether giving an antibiotic at the same time as the modified-live vaccine would kill the vaccine.

This is important as it could influence how effective the vaccine is in boosting an animal’s immunity to the disease.

She first became interested in studying brucellosis for her project while assisting with drawing blood and vaccinating at a local bison herd where she met researchers from the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) and a state veterinarian.

She began talking with WSVL Epidemiologist Brant Schumaker and Graduate Student Noah Hull about possible research ideas and procedures for her agriscience fair project.

“The research question actually came about when we were bleeding bison at a quarantined producer’s operation, and she was on site with Dr. Danny Miller, who she works with at the vet clinic there. She needed a project for her FFA science fair. We were talking about it and said this is something Dr. Miller is doing. It would be interesting to see if this antibiotic decreases the efficacy of the vaccine,” says Hull.

Project findings

Klinghagen’s study found that the antibiotic killed the vaccine. She noted that this was a significant finding because it is a common practice for veterinarians and producers to notice another illness and treat the animal with antibiotics while they have the animal in the chute to be vaccinated. Rendering the vaccine for brucellosis ineffective can have major impacts later for producers.

“In the case of brucellosis, that’s kind of a big deal because if we have a positive brucellosis test, the rest of the herd and all of their neighbors all go under quarantine,” she emphasized.

Real impact

According to Hull, many of the science fair projects he’s judged at the Wyoming State Science Fair have lacked originality and applicability to real world problems. Klinghagen’s project, however, has both of these qualities.

“This one is actually a real-world problem, something a practicing veterinarian was implementing that we just really didn’t know. I mean, we could make a good guess of what was going on, but unfortunately good guesses don’t provide data to support field decisions,” Hull says.

He continues, “Her data was actually pretty darn convincing that giving a cow or bison antibiotic and a live vaccine is going to decrease the vaccine load to create a good immune response.”

“I think it’s pretty rare to see projects that actually have an impact,” commends Hull.

Schumaker was also impressed with not only Klinghagen’s sharpness and hard-working nature, but her desire to answer a meaningful question.

“She was really interested in doing a project that is going to have meaningful results for a real world problem and that’s not a typical science fair project,” adds Schumaker.

Staying busy

When she’s not busy with her many FFA projects, which included the agriscience fair, agronomy, the Job Interview CDE and earning her state degree this year, Klinghagen also works at a local veterinary clinic, enjoys reading, hiking, fishing and hunting. She has always enjoyed staying busy and has tried many different CDEs ranging from marketing to veterinary science.

Klinghagen will be attending the University of Wyoming this fall and plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

“I hope to have an emphasis on large animal medicine, and I would like for a while to study and research particularly with vaccines and diseases,” says Klinghagen.

Well prepared

“For me, FFA has really opened a lot of doors and given me a lot of opportunities. I’ve been able to go to the National Convention three times. I’ve competed at the National Convention even,” notes Klinghagen. “It’s also given me a lot of ideas as to what my career options are, what my future is and how not only the ag industry is important but how all industries related  to ag are really important.”

Schumaker has also been impressed with Klinghagen’s involvement in FFA, the opportunities that she has taken advantage of and the preparation it has given her to pursue her education in veterinary medicine.

He continues, “I think FFA allows students to really explore lots of different aspects of agriculture, and in this specific example, it took a very bright student and allowed her to reach her potential and go above and beyond the opportunities that she would have gotten from her traditional education.”

Her involvement throughout high school has allowed her passions to blossom and makes her a pleasure for anyone to work with, according to Godfrey.

“I wish I had more students like her. She’s an outstanding student,” Godfrey says. “She has fantastic work ethic. She’s self motivated and driven. I will miss her.”

Emilee Gibb is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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