Bailey DeGroat’s Turquoise Vet jewelry has become popular in livestock show circles. Photo provided by Bailey DeGroat.

The Turquoise Vet

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

A typical day for Bailey DeGroat includes quite a bit of variety. From attending classes at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, creating a new apparel design, or finishing up a turquoise necklace, the 24-year-old Ohio native is a jack of many trades.

DeGroat, born and raised in Germantown is no stranger to the livestock industry. Growing up in Montgomery County, her family owned and operated a cow-calf operation, beef feedlot, livestock transportation business, and an A2A2 specialty dairy. She exhibited cattle at the state level, hogs at her county fair, and sheep at the state and national levels. Over her livestock showing career, DeGroat garnered many titles, including Champion Dorset at the Best of the Buckeye show. She even had a lamb qualify for the sale at the American Royal.

Being around livestock all her life also meant DeGroat has been around veterinarians since a young age.

“It was something about the people with the green bibs when they showed up to our operation. Their wisdom, compassion for animals, and integrity were a few attributes that initially helped me gravitate towards the veterinary field,” DeGroat said.

However, due to the difficulty of veterinary school and the long-time commitment, some high school teachers discouraged  DeGroat from pursuing the field while in college. Instead, she decided to pursue an Animal Sciences degree while on the livestock judging team at Illinois Community College. 

Bailey DeGroat has been hard at work balancing the rigors of being a veterinary student and making her unique jewelry. Photo provided by Bailey DeGroat.

“In my sophomore year of college, I had an epiphany. I realized I could continue my path but wasn’t sure I would ever feel fulfilled. I did a lot of reflection on my purpose and what would fill my cup each day,” DeGroat said. “So, that day, I texted my judging coach, Grant Grebner, and told him I wanted to go to vet school. I asked him where I needed to go from there. He said, ‘Okay, let’s get you to vet school,’ and I have been on that path ever since.”

After two years at Illinois Community College, DeGroat completed her bachelor’s at Iowa State University before returning to Ohio where she was accepted into Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She is currently in her third year there. DeGroat anticipates graduating in 2025.

Besides her passion for the livestock and veterinary industry, DeGroat has another passion: jewelry.

“I have had an obsession with the southwest style of turquoise jewelry for years,” DeGroat said. “In 2019, I wanted to do something to help pay for my college, and one night, while I was looking at jewelry online, I stumbled upon a vendor doing an inventory closeout on all their turquoise. They wanted $300 for the lot, and I think I had maybe $500 in my bank account then.

“I have a 24-hour rule for big decisions, so if 24 hours go by and I am still thinking about it, I would just do it. I was awake at 2 a.m., still thinking about the sale and hoping no one else had bought it. So I knew I had to buy it.”

When the turquoise arrived, DeGroat crafted necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to sell. She posted the pieces on her personal social media pages, but only two people bought items from her.

“I panicked and thought, great, now I am stuck with this jewelry. I was going to the North American International Livestock Expo, so I decided to bring all of it with me. I thought maybe if people saw me wearing it, they’d want to buy it,” DeGroat said.

Her plan worked. While walking through a booth, a woman who owned a boutique in Iowa was drawn to DeGroat’s jewelry. The boutique owner asked DeGroat to bring her whole lot of jewelry back to the booth later that day, where she eventually purchased everything.

“I was in school at Ames then, so she asked if I would make more jewelry for her store. So, we did that for about four months, which was awesome because I was making pieces that were being sold at major Western events, like the National Finals Rodeo. But then, COVID hit,” DeGroat said.

Since in-person shopping slowed, the boutique owner encouraged DeGroat to pursue her own business. While initially unsure, DeGroat took a leap, setting up a website and a social media site for her new business, The Turquoise Vet.

What happened next was beyond DeGroat’s wildest dreams. The business was a big success.

“I would never guess the amount of support I received in a million years. I have to give a lot of credit to God. It’s cool to see the business grow and how much I have grown as a person, too,” DeGroat said.

The Turquoise Vet’s social media platform is more than just jewelry, however. DeGroat offers tips and tricks to prospective vet students and shares glimpses of her classes, clinics, and externships. Mental health is another topic DeGroat tackles on her platform.

Unfortunately, statistics show that veterinarians deal with high rates of depression, anxiety, burnout, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts. The work can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.

“I dealt with a situation as a student that impacted my mental health, and one day, I just decided to share about it on my platform,” DeGroat said. “I received so many messages just letting me know that I wasn’t alone and that people were so glad I shared my emotions because they were dealing with something similar. Social media is a highlight reel for most people; they don’t always share their struggles. Most food animal veterinarians grew up on a farm, and some families never discussed mental health. I didn’t grow up learning coping mechanisms; I learned to suppress my feelings. I don’t want that to be the trend anymore.”  

DeGroat is still surprised when other vet students approach her at events to thank her for her social media content.

“It took me a while to be okay with using the platform to discuss mental health so openly and honestly, but I think as an industry, agriculture is making strides to make mental health more normal to talk about, “DeGroat said.

The Turquoise Vet also sells veterinary and livestock-themed apparel and some veterinary accessories, like surgery caps and stethoscope charms. DeGroat sees the line as a creative outlet. She gathers inspiration from her courses and hands-on experiences. Popular designs include animal anatomy sketches and species-specific vet medicine designs.

“Our mission statement is ‘Enriching lives through animals and handcrafted jewelry.” I know it’s a super niche business, but many people enjoy it,” she said.

As she enters her final year of vet school this fall, DeGroat will continue the apparel line but will limit the amount of jewelry she creates. Her eventual goal is to be a cow/calf and feedlot consultant while owning her own warehouse for The Turquoise Vet. DeGroat plans to use her future career to educate cattle producers about sustainability, herd health, nutrition, reproductive management, and forage management.

“I am grateful for the path I’ve taken,” she said. “I like to tell people that your calling in life isn’t a conference call. Ask yourself, ‘Is this what God has for me?’ Whatever your purpose, each person is unique in our talents and skills.”

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One comment

  1. Connie O’Connell

    This is a great article about an amazing young woman
    in agriculture. I love her jewelry and outlook on life and
    her love of animals will be a terrific asset to her veterinarian
    career. Wishing you much continued success Bailey.

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