4-H Photo: Jessee claims prizes in state contest

Seventeen-year-old Meg Jessee wants to be a veterinarian, so it’s no surprise she likes to take pictures of animals. One of her favorite subjects is pigs, or more specifically, her pig.

In September, Jessee gets a pig to raise for the Polk County Youth Fair. In January, she sells it. In the meantime, she takes pictures. “She has a soft spot in her heart for pigs,” explains her mother, Nancy Jessee.

“I’ve taken pictures of ever single one I’ve had. I’ve accumulated a lot of pig pictures over the years,” says Jessee, who is on her sixth pig.

Jessee, the daughter of Nancy and Chris Jessee, took first place in 4-H Theme, Senior Division, for the Florida 4-H Photo Contest with her picture of a chicken and two children. The cooperative chicken was transported to the photo shoot in a laundry basket. The Chain of Lakes High School senior claimed second place in the contest’s Black and White Senior Divison with a photo of her fourth pig, Lola.

Taking animal pictures can have its challenges. Besides dealing with motion, where Meg Jessee gets a little bit of help from her Sony digital camera, she’s got to compete for the animal’s attention. With pigs, they just like rolling in the mud, she says.

Among her other favorite subjects are her pet bunny and Golden Retriever. Her fluffy white bunny allows her to put it in buckets to photograph, but her Golden Retriever doesn’t like to sit still.

Meg Jessee studied photography in a children’s program at Polk State College, Nancy Jessee says. She takes lot of pictures trying to shoot from different angles or going for a different look. With Lola the pig, she took a color photo and she decided to use a black-and-white filter because she liked the effect.

“Meg has been involved in the Country Ridge 4-H Club for about six years now and has been enrolled in the Leisure Arts project for five years,” says Amanda Squitieri, Polk County 4-H Agent. “She has consistently submitted high quality and impressive work to the various 4-H competitions. Her hard work and talents have paid off with these great accomplishments and awards.”

Photography likely will continue to be a hobby for Meg Jessee, who is making plans to study animal science at college next year and become a veterinarian for large animals. Having shadowed with three veterinarians already, she’s got a fair idea of what’s involved. “I’ve kind of grown up around them,” says the teen, whose grandpa Richard Totilas of Stuart and aunt Patty Palumbo of Orlando are vets.

View the winning photos at http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/photo/