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Bridget Bazile Awarded 2019 O.A.K. Scholarship

Congrats to our 2019 O.A.K. Scholarship recipient Bridget Bazile! Bridget will be attending University of Wisconsin - River Falls.

Here's her essay:

My family and I are very active in the outdoors; I grew up with hunting, trapping, and fishing being a big portion of my life. Opening weekend of the gun deer season is always a big ordeal in this family. We stay out all day and after the day’s excitement is done, my extended family regroups at my grandparents where there is hot food and a warm place to eat waiting for us. After the meal, we often sit around telling stories and playing games into the night, only to get up early the next morning and repeat it all again. These events also serve as this side of the family’s Thanksgiving. Gun deer season is the “big” hunting season in the family, followed closely by bow season, but we also hunt bear, turkey, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, and the occasional Colorado elk as the seasons come around. Personally, I love the challenges that come with hunting each different type of animal. I wouldn’t trade these nights or experiences for anything, they are full of traditions and memories that define my family and myself.

Trapping is probably the biggest outdoor activity in my life. My parents and I are certified Trappers Education instructors and avid trappers. I grew up trapping and have been participating with my parents since I was old enough to tag along. The actual trapping portion of the sport has become mine and my dad’s thing over the years. He and I will go set traps and keep a line going, trapping racoon, opossum, coyote, fox and bobcat, otter and fisher when we receive tags for them. I was even able to trap a wolf when they were removed from the endangered species list. My family has also always been very active in the WTA, advocating for trapping and going to conventions. We normally teach trappers education at least once a year through my high school, as well as any side classes we might have at home. To top it all off, I grew up around the trapping conventions and events, following my parents around as they volunteered. As I grew older, I became a life member and got increasingly more active in these activities, to the point where I’m a certified trappers education instructor and I was named the WTA’s volunteer of the year in 2017 at the age of 16. My trapping family is often like my blood family; it is filled with just as many memories, friends, and traditions, and that is what makes trapping and this organization so special to me.

Fishing was, and still is, a thing in my life. We have a well-stocked panfish pond in our backyard, which makes it prime for winter ice fishing and summer fish frys. I grew up fishing on this pond year-round, often going ice-fishing for my birthday and throwing spinners in the summer while standing in the water to cool off. It isn’t as big of a tradition as hunting and trapping ever were, but it still is a fun part of my life. I’ve had some pretty good times on that pond with friends and family.

Hunting, trapping, and fishing are, and will always be, a huge part of my life. The outdoors has always been a way to bring my family members (blood or otherwise) and I closer, and I have many dear memories from times spent outside. In high school, I was active in sports, clubs, and academics, earning many varsity letters and honors with my involvement. Other than these sports and clubs, outside activities have been my mainstay. I became interested in becoming a large animal veterinarian because I grew up outside around all types of animals and love working with them, something I continue today with my jobs at a local dairy and a hobby farm. In the end, my experiences outdoors have culminated in my love of animals and cemented the fact that I wish to become a large animal veterinarian.

This summer, I will enroll at UW-River Falls for fall of 2019 in their pre-veterinary program with a major in animal science. I plan to complete the program in three to three and a half years due to the college credits I have earned while still in high school. From there, I plan to go on to get my degree in large animal veterinary medicine and become a licensed large animal veterinarian. My personal goals are to graduate veterinary school before I turn 26, and to do my best to earn an A average throughout. Soon after I graduate college, I hope to find employment close to my hometown, as there are many farms and veterinary practices that could use a large animal veterinarian. Throughout all of this, I also plan to keep my eye out for scholarships and apply for as many as I possibly can. Veterinary school is a long and expensive process and I would prefer to graduate with as minimal debt as possible. I plan to keep my current jobs during college and find another one near the school to support myself with during the school-week. If I am fortunate, I will be able to find a major-related job or apprenticeship through the pre-veterinary program. I wish to deal in the large animal side of the industry because I prefer the cows, horses, and other farm animals to the smaller animals. I would also like to work outside and travel to farms then to stay in a clinic all day. In the future, I can see myself trying to become dually licensed for both large and small animals.

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