MULTIMEDIA: Involvement in FFA, 4-H brings out leadership qualities in teen

Monday, July 8, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Maddie Grant walks one of her show pigs in her family’s barn near Columbia on June 17. Working with her two pigs early will ensure both handler and animal are ready for the Boone County Fair on July 24.

COLUMBIA — When Maddie Grant attended her first 4-H meeting, she was scared to death.

At 8 years old, Maddie was not an outgoing child. When she first joined the Shaw-Harg 4-H Club, she was nervous to meet new kids and talk in front of people. But leadership roles and responsibilities through 4-H, and later Future Farmers of America, changed her, she said.

Maddie, now 17 and a rising senior at Rock Bridge High School, is serving her second year as her 4-H club’s president. She is also the Columbia FFA secretary for the 2013-2014 school year.

“4-H and FFA formed who I am now and who I will be in the future,” Maddie said. “Both of those together are where I’m supposed to be.”

She credits leadership roles and activities such as contest teams and livestock showing with bringing her out of her shell and improving her people and public speaking skills.

Last October, Maddie was part of the national-winning FFA poultry team. The next month, her 4-H poultry team earned fourth in its national competition. She’s also been on meats and livestock judging teams.

As an older member, Maddie enjoys watching the younger children develop as leaders.

Maddie has attended 4-H Camp since she was 8, first as a camper then as a counselor. She sees her shy, young self in the youngest kids and enjoys watching their excitement for leadership grow as they get older. She sees a similar trend in her club’s members.

“I’ve seen kids that weren’t even talking last year, and now they’re taking offices,” she said.

Maddie also enjoys watching her show animals progress as she works with them to prepare for the fair.

Maddie has shown cattle since she was 8, but 2012 was her first pig showing experience. Her sister, who showed pigs for two years previously, had one extra pig so Maddie seized her chance.

“I ended up showing by random opportunity, but I’d always been kind of interested in showing pigs,” she said.

Each pig has a different personality, she said, and they are fun to work with. She feels confident they will be ready for the show, which will take place at the Boone County Fair’s 4-H/FFA Swine Show on July 24.

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