Bailie Welton always knew she wanted to work with animals. Upon entering the University of Idaho’s Animal Veterinary Science program, she realized she had a significant hurdle to overcome because she lacked any prior experience with animal agriculture.
Bailie’s inexperience wasn’t her only challenge. At the age of 9, she was diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration, leaving her legally blind.
“Every individual has their own challenges they must face in life,” Bailie said. “What sets people apart are those that find positive ways to overcome these challenges.”
In April 2014, workforce consultant Debi Middlekoop worked with Bailie and signed her up to participate in the department’s youth employment program. Funded by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act dollars from the federal government, the program provides education, training and employment opportunities for low-income youth.
WIOA partnered with Vocational Rehabilitation and provided tuition, books and internship assistance for Bailie to attend the University of Idaho, where she worked toward the goal of working with cattle. Additionally, WIA helped Bailie get her foot in the door of an industry difficult to enter without experience.
“The WIOA program gave me the access to explore areas of work interest outside of the classroom,” Bailie said. “The program helped guide me through the ups and downs I had to go through to reach the ultimate goal of achieving a career within my degree field post college.”
Bailie graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in animal and veterinary science. Approaching graduation, she researched companies she was interested in, narrowed her list down to three, interviewed with each and was offered a position by one. However, Bailie had her focus set on a company based in Washington, All West/Select Sires. When she contacted the company’s owner, she was told there were no positions available.
Still determined to get a career with All West/Select Sires, Bailie contacted one of the salesmen and asked if she could job shadow for research she was conducting. After two days of job shadowing, her determination landed her a job interview with the owner.
“Bailie always knew exactly what she wanted and found a way to make it happen,” Middlekoop said. “She always had a clear path in her mind of how things should go and had a plan B if they didn’t.”
After a two-hour interview and luncheon with the marketing team, Bailie was offered a paid position as a marketing associate intern with All West/Select Sires. She hopes to maintain a role at All West/Select Sires as a marketing associate. Her long-term goal is to own property in the Skagit Valley area of Washington and manage a small hobby farm.
“Bailie has been successful because she has a loving supportive family and she did not let her blindness keep her from pursuing her dreams,” Middlekoop said. “I am sure she will encounter many obstacles throughout her life but I am equally sure she will overcome them.”
— Idaho Department of Labor