Embracing Her Role

Embracing Her Role

Intermediate Florida Beef Ambassador Excited to Share Her Passion

by TERESA SCHIFFER

It’s only natural that 13-year-old Reagan Hancock of Levy County would be named this year’s Intermediate Florida Beef Ambassador. After all, her mother grew up on a farm, Reagan has been active in 4-H since kindergarten, and she has been showing beef cattle since she was just 8 years old. This young lady knows more than a little bit about beef and the Florida cattle industry, and she can’t wait to share her knowledge with the world.

 

Reagan isn’t the first in her family to walk the agricultural trail. Her older brother was a member of 4-H before she was, which opened the door for her own involvement. The Williston Middle-High School student is now in eighth grade and is currently serving as secretary in the school’s FFA chapter. She has been involved with the Future Farmers of America organization for the past three years. 

 

“Showing cows has always been one of my strongest passions,” Reagan says. She started out by showing dairy cows with 4-H when she was in kindergarten. Once she reached fourth grade, Reagan was finally old enough to begin competing in the county shows. Within a year, she was traveling throughout Florida to show beef cattle and soon began raising her own cattle. 

 

Her family’s farm now raises beef cattle, thanks to Reagan, some dairy cows, plus chickens, rabbits, and dogs. Reagan is also raising a goldendoodle as a therapy dog for her FFA SAE (supervised agricultural experience). She plans on incorporating the goldendoodle into her public outreach work with the Florida Cattlewomen’s Association.

 

Reagan describes the activities she has planned with the Cattlewomen: “We’re going to go to different schools to educate today’s youth about Florida beef. My dog would go with me and we would go to a school and they would read books about the beef industry to hopefully get them more interested in it, and maybe they’ll learn some more things along the way.”

 

Earlier this year, Reagan took part in the Florida State Fair’s Youth Steer Show Program. The young people who participate in the program are first instructed in the ethics of raising animals, then given the opportunity to choose a project animal from local stock supplied by area ranchers. The students care for their chosen animals for about six months. They spend that time feeding, grooming, and breaking the animals, while also taking written tests and creating educational materials demonstrating their knowledge of various aspects of animal care. 

 

After the care period, students show the livestock they’ve invested in at the Florida State Fair, where it is judged on the condition and showing of the animals. Most participants will earn some profit when the animals are sold, and there are multiple scholarships for which the students will be eligible through their participation in the program. Champions even receive cash prizes. 

 

Reagan acquired a calf from Jones Potato Farm in Duette to raise through the Youth Steer Show Program. She won the award for Intermediate Showmanship. The folks at the Jones Farm provided invaluable assistance to Reagan throughout the process, for which she is very thankful.

 

As the Intermediate Florida Beef Ambassador, Reagan is excited about getting the chance to share her passion for Florida beef with others.

 

“My goal this year is to promote Florida beef and to educate the public, so I’ll be informing people mostly about a sustainable beef industry, talking about the differences in prices, quality and origin, and giving people some fun recipes to try with the meat cut they’re most interested in,” she says.

 

Reaching out to her peers is something that Reagan places a particularly high priority on. “What I really want to focus on is informing today’s youth,” she says. “Our generation is slowly drifting away from agriculture, and I encourage my young fellows to do some research and to learn more about the everyday aspects of the beef industry.”