Polk County’s Sweetheart

Getting to Know Polk County Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart, Paxton Evans

Each year young ladies around the state have a chance to apply for their county Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart, where if selected, they will represent their county’s cattle industry for a full year and compete in the State Cattlemen’s Sweetheart pageant that is held during the annual Cattlemen’s Convention.
This year, Ms. Paxton Evans, 21 of Lakeland, was selected to serve as Polk County Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart.  Sponsored by both her family’s ranch, Evans Ranch, and Polk County Cattlemen and Cattlewomen, Paxton is excited to promote the beef industry.   “As second runner up, I have duties to promote the beef industry in the state of Florida.  I hope to use this platform to educate consumers about how great our industry really is,” Evans states.
Paxton grew up on her family’s cattle ranch here in Polk County and is currently a student at the University of Florida as an Agricultural Education and Communication major in Gainesville.
Growing up, helping my dad on our ranch instilled a passion for agriculture in me at an early age . . . I was never involved in FFA because I initially wanted to go into agricultural research, so I focused most my time in high school to the Industrial Biotechnology Academy at Lake Gibson High School.  Once I got into college, I realized through taking an agricultural education and communications (AEC) class, that my true passion lies within agricultural education.”
At UF, Paxton is active in organizations such as Sigma Kappa Sorority and Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen, both of which promote leadership and service in young women.  After graduating with her bachelors degree, Evans plans to obtain a master’s degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. Following that, she aspires to be a Livestock Extension Agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
There are quite a few events that Paxton is looking most forward to attending as Sweetheart, one being the Florida Cattlewomen’s Associations MasterBEEF Chef’s competition.  Other events include the Polk County Youth Fair, where she will observe all the cattle shows and hand out ribbons to each deserving participant, and the Polk County Cattlemen’s Ranch Rodeo, where she will ride through the arena carrying the Nation’s flag and pass down the sash to another young lady that will be serving as PCCA Sweetheart.  
One of her biggest goals as PCCA Sweetheart is to continue working with legislators and lobbyist on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  “One of the biggest struggles that ranchers, specifically in the state of Florida, are facing is the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” she says. “In the past, the agreement has hurt Florida producers. I have already presented to numerous lawmakers and plan to continue to use my platform as the PCCA Sweetheart to promote legislation that will benefit Florida cattle producers.”
Paxton is also looking forward to getting involved with youth around her county and state during her reign.  She shared that what she feels is the most important thing for young students to know is that “If you are truly passionate about this industry, it does not matter what your background is.  Find the area of agriculture that you are most passionate about and run with it.” As she mentioned earlier in the article, she was not heavily involved in youth organizations such as 4-H and FFA until she went on to college and found her true calling.  
Passion is key in the agriculture industry and is what helps you to thrive.  Congratulations to Paxton Evans, Florida Cattlemen’s Association 2nd Runner-Up Sweetheart, keep working hard to be an advocate for this industry, you’re doing great!