From Student to Staff: Hungerford Returns to Vet Science Lab


Emma Cummings

Jesse Hungerford brings her knowledge and passion for animals to her teaching of veterinary science.

Emma Cummings, Ag/FFA Reporter

WOODBURY — A familiar face has returned just a handful of years after being a Nonnewaug student. Now, she’s taking on a new role as a long-term veterinary science substitute. 

Jesse Hungerford, a 2016 graduate, was a part of the agriscience program here at Nonnewaug. As a student, Hungerford enrolled in many veterinary science courses and competed in CDE competitions including Milk Quality and Products Evaluation and Livestock Judging. 

Post-graduation, she attended Delaware Valley University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary agricultural education and a minor in dairy science, which led her down the right path towards her future career plan. 

“I’ve wanted to be an agriculture teacher because of my outstanding experience being in the ag program as a student,” Hungerford said. “I wouldn’t be here today, let alone in this industry, if it weren’t for the guidance of this high school. I always thought someday it would be cool to come back and contribute to the school community that gave me so much as a student.”

Hungerford, class of 2016, has returned to see a variety of improvements to the animal science labs. (Courtesy of Jesse Hungerford)

In the summer of 2022, Hungerford was amid a road trip with friends, hitting 37 different states. While in Arizona, she heard about the job opening and felt as if it was the perfect opportunity since she’s been searching for agricultural education jobs. 

I heard about the opening and thought it was a good fit so I decided I’d go for it. It was like, ‘I’ll give it a shot,’” Hungerford said. “It was the first place I applied to and they needed someone while I needed a job.”

As it’s been nearly seven years since Hungerford attended NHS, there have been many changes both to the physical program and the program’s curriculum since she was a student. 

“The noticeable physical difference is that my classroom was the small animal lab,” Hungerford said. “Now there’s a lot more space and a lot more room for animals.”

Since 2016, many different major changes have occurred in the ag building, opening more space for new installations and animals that have been added to the building. 

“A lot of these animals are new species for me,” Hungerford said. “For example, we didn’t have an alpaca. There are a lot of new animals.”

Hungerford’s addition to the NHS faculty, albeit temporary, was initiated because of incumbent veterinary science instructor Jen Jedd’s maternity leave. 

“When we learned that Mrs. Jedd was going out on maternity leave, I immediately knew that I needed to find a qualified long-term substitute who not only would be a competent teacher, but one extremely knowledgeable with the veterinary industry,” said Ed Belinsky, the director of the agriscience department. “When I saw Ms. Hungerford’s application, I was immediately excited. Not only was she more than qualified, but she was also an alumni that understood the high standard of our program, students and teachers.” 

In a course like veterinary science, the curriculum is rich with content, necessitating an instructor who is both knowledgeable and detail oriented. 

“Ms. Hungerford, as an alumni of the program, was able to start and take over the veterinary classes and lab without missing a beat,” Belinsky said. “She already knew her way around the lab, how to care for the large variety of animal life, and she fits well with the rest of the agriscience staff. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to hire her.” 

While Hungerford’s addition to the faculty is indefinite, her colleagues notice the wide variety of skills she brings to the program. 

“[She] has much knowledge of the veterinary curriculum,” Belinsky said, “but her expertise in large mammal health and care will be the greatest asset to the class. She gives a new perspective to the students and will be able to teach many advanced skills.”