MMHMF Scholarship Recipient
2019 MMHMF Scholarship Recipient
Laila is a graduate of Matoaca High School and the daughter of Lottie Ampy. She is attending Virginia Tech and pursuing a degree in animal science. Her high school activities included cheerleading squad; DECA; Key Club; FBLA, STEM competition team; National Honor Society; and National Technical Honor Society. In the community, Laila was an animal shelter volunteer; Service Learning volunteer (1st grade classroom); Youth Praise Dance Team and Youth Choir (Grace Run Baptist Church); Mega Mentor (to freshmen); Junior cheerleading coach; Community Outreach volunteer (Karisma Consulting). Laila enjoys animals and working with elementary school students. She describes herself as hard working, determined, motivated, persistent, good at public speaking, and easy to get along with.
Her participation in the Honors Dual Enrollment Veterinary Science Program sparked her desire to major in Animal and Poultry Sciences. She participated in a USDA Summer program at VA State University. She wants to become a veterinarian.
Update January 2024
“Thank you so much! I know you all don't have to do what you do for me or anyone, so I as well as my family are always extremely grateful. Thank you for your compliments; you are too kind. I will be sure to tell my mother and father. Thank you very much. I will be looking forward to seeing the newsletter. I always love getting emails and checking the new recipients. Have a blessed weekend.”
“On Fri, May 26, 2023, Laila wrote: “I had an article done on me by Virginia Tech for being an outstanding senior. I am working this summer in my field; I am currently a 4-H liaison with the hopes of a position here or elsewhere becoming permanent. I would then like to start my master’s in the fall of 2024. I am always so grateful for all the items and snacks you have sent over the years; they are always right on time when I need some encouragement. Thank you so much for all of your kindness.”
Below is the article appearing in the Virginia Tech NEWS newspaper, by Marya Barlow, 27 April 2023
Class of 2023: Laila Ampy-Thomas finds a future in 4-H
An internship with Virginia Cooperative Extension introduced Ampy-Thomas to a career path that combined her passions for working with animals and kids.
When Laila Ampy-Thomas applied for an internship with Virginia Cooperative Extension, she imagined she would work with livestock. Instead, she was introduced to Henrico County 4-H youth development and a career opportunity that blended her passions for working with children and animals.
"As soon as I finished my first lesson with elementary school kids about dairy and saw their excitement about making ice cream, I realized this was something I could see myself doing forever," she said.
The internship experience inspired Ampy-Thomas to make it the focus of her senior capstone project and to pursue a career in 4-H. After graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in animal and poultry sciences, she has a job lined up to lead 4-H camps for the City of Richmond. In the future, she hopes to earn her master's degree and find a position as a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent.
"I was unaware of 4-H in my school growing up, and it would have been such a great fit for me," she said. "I want to ensure that more people living in urban and underdeveloped areas are aware of the amazing opportunities that exist in 4-H.
Ampy-Thomas traces her love for animals back to kindergarten in Chesterfield, where she helped the teacher care for several ducks, snakes, and mice that were classroom pets. In high school at Chesterfield Career and Technical Center, she fell in love with veterinary science courses and decided to pursue her passion in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"I knew Virginia Tech had the best animal science program and the best hands-on experience and professors," she said. "My classes showed me so many paths for doing what I loved, from being a veterinarian to managing a barn or animal shelter to being a professor or Extension agent."
While at Virginia Tech, Ampy-Thomas was active in Minorities in Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program and was president of Sheep and Goat Club. She also volunteered at the swine barn, caring for sows, and with Hokie High Five, welcoming and mentoring first-year students.
After landing her paid internship with Virginia Cooperative Extension in the summer of 2022, Ampy-Thomas worked alongside 4-H Extension agents, leading activities for kids in local schools. With the encouragement of her supervisors, she developed and led a week-long day camp for kids ages 8 to 13. Ampy-Thomas called the camp Making Tracks and filled it with fun activities and lessons on the care of reptiles, companion animals, and livestock.
As she stood in front of a room full of campers on her own for the first time, Ampy-Thomas was grateful she had seven years of experience as a youth cheerleading coach to guide her.
"I've been coaching cheerleading since I was in ninth grade and I love it," she said. "My experience in cheer really helps me with 4-H. I've already worked a lot with this age group, so I understand how to communicate with and entertain them." To help teach campers about companion animals, Ampy-Thomas brought in her bearded dragon, Hiccup, and her dog, Blue, and made dog treats and washcloth puppies with the children. "There are several more bearded dragon owners now because of me," she joked. The week culminated in a visit to Hidden Triple Oak Farm, where the kids got to see and learn about horses, chickens, pigs, and cows up close.
Ampy-Thomas also helped run Henrico County's Junior 4-H Camp, a week-long sleepaway camp held at Jamestown 4-H Educational Center. When tasked with planning and leading a class for the students, Ampy-Thomas said there was no question it would be about cheerleading. She taught the kids jumps, tumbling, stunts, and a full cheer routine, and made them all cheer bows for their hair.
"Many of them told me it was the highlight of their day," she said. "One camper made me cry by saying that Miss Laila always made him feel comfortable and heard. Seeing that what I was doing had an impact on each child really cemented that this is something I want to do for life."
Associate Extension Agent Carter Humphries '14, M.S. '16, who helped supervise Ampy-Thomas during the internship, said many kids are asking if "Miss Laila" will be returning to camp this summer.
"The future of 4-H is bright with Laila in it," Humphries said. "The youth absolutely loved her. She was extremely creative and showed great leadership skills among the youth she worked with but also among our Henrico staff, high school interns, and teen counselors. We felt like a colleague was leaving us at the end of her internship. I look forward to having her join us as a fellow 4-H agent one day."