Written by: Morgan Figgins, marketing intern
Editor’s Note: Farm Credit has an active internship program for students who are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. This series of blogs is written by our 2017 marketing interns, Morgan Figgins and BreAnn Fields. It will be featuring agvocates around our area monthly.
“I was pretty much born into the ag industry!” exclaims 22 year old BreAnn Fields. As a fifth generation 4-Her and cattle showman, BreAnn has been actively involved in agriculture, “ever since I was old enough to walk on my own.” Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H initiated her agricultural career, but she didn’t stop there!
BreAnn was also a member of the Catoctin FFA, the Maryland Junior Hereford Association, and the Wills Fair Board. She currently heads the Maryland Junior Hereford Free Heifer Program, the Maryland Junior Hereford Royalty Program, reigns as the 2016-2017 Maryland Junior Hereford Queen, is a member of the Maryland Hereford Association, the Maryland Pollettes, and is one of MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s marketing interns. When BreAnn isn’t working on her agricultural projects, she attends church and runs her own business, B Photography & Designs. As of May 2017, BreAnn is also a proud University of Maryland graduate!
A family tradition
Beginning with her great-great grandfather, BreAnn’s family developed a strong passion for 4-H and cattle that has been passed down for five generations. “It’s in my blood, and I plan on continuing the tradition,” she says. BreAnn started showing livestock when she was just five years old in open class shows, moving on to compete through 4-H for 10 years, while also being an active FFA member for all four years of high school. During her time in 4-H, BreAnn held several elected offices including Rocky Ridge Progressive Recreation Leader, Reporter, Vice President, and President. She entered crafts, baked goods, and photographs in the Great Frederick Faireach year, but mainly focused on her animal projects.
While she has raised market and breeding swine, her true passion lies in her market and breeding beef cattle. “I still show cattle nationwide, and I probably will until I physically cannot walk anymore!” BreAnn jokes. She currently lives with her grandparents on their farmette, and co-owns Hillviewacres Show Cattle with her younger brother Travis. In the mornings, BreAnn can be found in business casual work attire and old boots trying to finish feeding her animals without getting dirty. Never an easy feat!
Friendships for a lifetime
When faced with choosing her favorite thing about 4-H and FFA, BreAnn did not hesitate to choose the friendships. “You have so much in common and share such a strong passion that it forms the strongest bonds.” She continues, “Even though you’re competitive, at the end of the day, you congratulate each other and stay humble.” BreAnn has made countless friendships over the years, and even built her current relationship on the foundation of hard work and a love for cattle. She knows through her own firsthand experiences and the many stories her family has told, “The memories made through these programs are ones that will last a lifetime.”
One person who has greatly impacted BreAnn’s career is Donielle Axline, Frederick County 4-H Extension Educator, and BreAnn’s former boss and mentor. “She taught me so much about the behind the scenes of the 4-H program and how to become successful in anything I put my mind to.” BreAnn describes Donielle as someone who is hands-on in her work and very approachable.
Expanding her horizons
Great opportunities come from 4-H, FFA, and other ag programs, and BreAnn has taken advantage of many of them. While traveling to show her cattle in states like Colorado, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, BreAnn has learned to network with her peers and develop meaningful relationships with contacts in the national ag community. These networking opportunities have also been a great way to build her resume and have translated into some very important job opportunities. “I have a very hefty resume for a 22 year old and it’s always been a key factor in getting interviews,” says BreAnn.
These opportunities have led to unforgettable moments throughout BreAnn’s life, but her most memorable experience happened at a fair not far from home. She has been showing at Wills Fair since she officially joined 4-H at eight years old, and in 2011 something unexpected happened to BreAnn and her younger brother, Travis. It isn’t very often that you end up competing against your sibling in a championship drive, but that year both BreAnn and Travis had steers competing for the Grand Champion Steer title. “I will never forget the smile on my mom’s face as she was watching us from ringside. She was so proud,” she reflects. BreAnn won Reserve Grand Champion Steer that day and in the spirit of good old fashioned sibling rivalry, her brother said, “Good job sis, I’m still better than you.” That was the first, and last, time that BreAnn and Travis entered a championship drive together. Of course the family competition continues- which motivates them both to work even harder!
Growing with ag
Being active in these organizations also furthered her growth as an individual. For BreAnn, 4-H and FFA taught her how to be confident when speaking publicly. She has grown more than she ever thought she would and is now focusing on, “giving back to the industry that started me, through ag marketing.” The greatest lesson BreAnn has learned from her 4-H career is to stay humble. “4-H/FFA is just as competitive as any other sport, but whether we win or lose, we learn to stay humble and always congratulate everyone.” Winning isn’t everything; it’s about chasing that rewarding feeling when all of your hard work and long hours in the barn finally pay off. Teamwork is also just as important, in and out of the show ring. Whether it’s helping a younger member get their animal show ready or being happy for the member that won the class, acting as a team makes the show more enjoyable for everyone.
BreAnn exemplifies what the 4-H and FFA programs strive to accomplish: a well-rounded individual ready to conquer whatever career path one may choose, and she will be a force to be reckoned with wherever life takes her!