As a child, I had no interest in playing with dolls. I played with toy horses. I wore horse themed clothing. I slept in a bed dressed with horse-patterned sheets. I drew horses everywhere – on everything. My piggy bank was no piggy.
On my tenth birthday, I had finally saved up enough money in my horse bank to pay the three-hundred-dollar adoption fee at Habitat for Horses to rescue Glory, who would become my four-legged best friend. She was a sorrel mare as shiny as a copper penny. She kept me safe, and taught me to be patient and how to gain trust. I joined 4-H and enrolled in the horse project, where I got to see first hand the difference volunteers can make. I was surrounded by youth and adult volunteers, encouraging me to enter my first horse show, join the Montgomery County horse judging team, show cattle, develop leadership skills, become a delegate and then an officer in my 4-H club. The experiences I have had through 4-H have impacted me and influenced my decision to devote my future career and life to agriculture.
Being around amazing leaders in 4-H who helped me grow and increase my knowledge, I was inspired to become a leader too. First, I served as an officer in my club and then as an officer on the Montgomery County 4-H youth council. In 2013, I applied to be a Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador. At 14 years old, I was the youngest person chosen to attend the rigorous 4-H Ambassador training experience in Denton, TX. By the end of the week my brain was bursting with knowledge about horse care, management, nutrition, medical issues and Texas equine advocacy. About a month later I took a long and difficult exam over everything I learned. When I passed, I qualified for the title of an official 4-H Equine Ambassador for the Lone Star State.
Becoming a Texas Equine Ambassador has changed my life in many ways. It is amazing to be apart of a program where I am able to make friends who share the same interests and strive to spread the love we share for the agriculture industry. I have learned that the importance of service work is not to clock hours, but to help people and share feelings of joy in the communities where I serve. I love being able to spread that joy, and I plan to continue doing it for years to come.
In addition to serving others, being a Texas 4-H Ambassador has given me many amazing opportunities to build skills so I can become a better advocate. The most recent opportunity came last August (2017) when I was selected to travel with 19 other Texas 4-H ambassadors to California to study agricultural and animal science related topics. We drove for 10 days and hundreds of miles through northern and central California to see orchards, feedlots, farms, ranches, colleges, veterinary hospitals, and even an aquarium. We met with state agriculture and legislative leaders and I learned more about the agriculture industry with every stop. The experiences I had during the agricultural tour were very meaningful to me since three months before the trip I had been contemplating what to major in when I attend college at Texas A&M University in the fall of 2018. Each day on the trip brought a realization that I was truly interested in everything presented. About a week in, I had a true “ah-ha” moment, and I was so excited that I called my mom and told her I finally made the decision to major in Animal Science!
Animal Science will be the degree path that leads me to veterinary school, while providing me a greater overall education relating to agriculture. My goal is to graduate with a grade point average that is high enough to qualify for vet school. As a veterinarian, I will reciprocate the experiences I was blessed to have through 4-H that influenced my life so profoundly. I will treat animals humanely as well as inform animal owners of how to properly care for them. I will serve and teach, continuing what I have started as a Texas 4-H Ambassador, advocating for agriculture in and beyond the borders of Texas.
When I think of all the wonderful experiences I have had over the last four years serving others and taking action to promote 4-H, equine and agriculture, I am humbled and grateful. The horse and people who helped me get to where I am today: Glory, my family, fellow 4-Hers and many 4-H mentors – they have all helped me forge a relationship with the world of agriculture that defines the person I am today. I am excited and ready for my future in college and as a lifelong advocate for agriculture.