Fowlkes emphasizes involvement
Monica Fowlkes has been involved in 4-H for the past 10 years and a part of the Devil’s Tower FFA Chapter for six years. She has shown numerous animals, which include cats, rabbits, horses, sheep, pigs and goats.
While choosing a favorite project is difficult, she states, “It’s kind of hard to choose one project over another, but it is between my market lambs and my horses.”
“Overall, my favorite part about being involved in 4-H and FFA is not only watching my projects grow but also watching myself grow throughout the years,” comments Fowlkes.
“To grow from a young member who became involved for the fun of it to someone who has learned and understands livestock better has been a great experience,” she adds.
Fowlkes has won quite a few belt buckles and jackets from competing with her projects, including one year when she won a belt buckle at the Wyoming State Fair in the cat showmanship class.
“This will be my last year for 4-H, and after I complete my time with 4-H, I hope to be able to come back and still help out at the county fairs,” says Fowlkes. “Whether that be helping kids out through clinics or being a leader for a different 4-H club, I hope to still be involved.”
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve had with my projects is dealing with the sicknesses my animals get,” describes Fowlkes.
Health problems Fowlkes has seen with her animals are footrot and pneumonia.
“That’s always the hard thing with raising livestock – losing over 50 percent of the lamb crop and then hoping the next year things will go a little bit better,” she explains.
Fowlkes states her involvement with 4-H and FFA inspired her to go on to vet school and become a large animal veterinarian.
“My FFA advisor taught us a lot about veterinary practices and how to administer vaccines,” she says. “Also, I was born and raised on a ranch, and when something died, I always wondered what happened to it and if there was anything I could have done to help make it better so they wouldn’t of died.”
Fowlkes recently graduated from high school and will be attending Casper College this fall to major in pre-vet and minor in agricultural education.
“After I complete my degree at Casper College, I have plans to go on to Colorado State University to finish my education at vet school there,” she explains. “I would like to practice and specialize in large animals.”
Fowlkes mentions 4-H and FFA have benefited her in many ways, including having her name recognized in the agricultural industry and giving her an outlet to sell her lambs and hogs.
“They have also helped me to grow as an individual and become more independent and willing to get out there and meet new people, as well as meet and gain more friends,” comments Fowlkes.
One of the larger skills Fowlkes has acquired is public speaking.
“When I was younger I was scared to death of speaking in front of people. I hated doing it,” she explains. “Now, there are many opportunities I have to public speak. I love every opportunity to be able to get out and express my thoughts.”
“A piece of advice I would give fellow members is no matter how hard times get in either organization, 4-H or FFA, don’t quit,” Fowlkes comments. “They need to stick with theses organizations and fight hard to become the best showman or the best 4-H or FFA member they can possibly be because in the end it will pay off.”
She further mentions that a child’s involvement in 4-H and FFA benefits them throughout their life as they start interviewing for jobs and applying for scholarships and colleges.
“One thing I recommend for every youth within Wyoming, and even in the U.S., is to become involved in either 4-H or FFA. Whether they are an in-town kid or an out-of-town kid, they are able to get involved in either organization,” she states.
“I honestly think I couldn’t have invested my time any better than I did with 4-H and FFA,” declares Fowlkes.
Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.