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.
When promoted on how she started 4-H, her immediate response was “I instantly fell in love with 4-H!” Morgan, 19, just finished her freshman year at Frederick Community College (FCC) and plans to continue her college education by transferring to Universities of Shady Grove to pursue a Communication Degree through University of Maryland next fall.
Being the youngest in the family, Morgan always wanted to do what her older sister, Jocelyn, was doing. When Jocelyn joined 4-H at age nine it was no surprise that Morgan wanted to do the same. There wasn’t a question of would she be a part of 4-H, it was the question of what projects would she do.
Where it began
Morgan joined 4-H as a clover at the age of five, and worked her way into becoming a member at the age of eight when 4-H Leader, Mrs. Mary Jane Roop, got her involved. “I remember an eager eight year old coming to her first 4-H meeting. She could not wait to jump into the show ring and have her very own 4-H swine project,” Mary Jane says.
Today, Morgan is 14 years deep into the 4-H program. She is actively involved in the market swine and public speaking projects, and has held the office of being President of the Monocacy Achievers 4-H Clubfor the past four years. In addition to 4-H, Morgan also got involved in FFA during her senior year of high school.
4-H and FFA shapes you for the future
When reflecting back on the opportunities 4-H and FFA have given her, Morgan says, “4-H gave me the skills and confidence that I have today, I went from being shy to being able to talk in front of a large group of people. You don’t realize how much information you are absorbing, it is so much fun!” Not only has she gained a strong skill set in communications, Morgan has learned a lot about financials through 4-H. The program has helped her pay for her college career thus far, and has given her many scholarship and job opportunities.
Experiences that turned into memories
In 2016, Morgan got the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to participate in the National Ag Communication Career Development Competition through FFA. “I learned so much there and that is when I realized that I wanted to do something in the marketing field,” she emphasizes. 4-H and FFA has given her a base for a career in ag because she has been given the opportunity to network with members of the ag community.
While many memories were made in the show ring, her favorite is in 2009, when she won Grand Champion Market Hog at The Great Frederick Fair. When Morgan was picking out her market hog projects for the year she fell in love with the runt of the liter but despite the warning from her peers about investing in the runt, Morgan stuck to her gut feeling, and it ended up paying off.
Inspirations that turned into heroes
Of the many people Morgan worked with through 4-H and FFA, two people stood out that truly have made a great impact on her success. Mary Jane Roop, her first 4-H leader and the one that got her involved with 4-H in the first place. “She brought me out of my shell, encouraged me to do things that I didn’t think I could do, inspired me to stay in ag, and most importantly, made me fall in love with 4-H,” Morgan describes with a smile. The second person that impacted her was the man that she purchased her market hogs from, Mike Flohr. He taught Morgan everything she knows about pigs, and is always there to answer any questions she has regarding her livestock projects. “I would not have been successful or had fun with my livestock projects if it wasn’t for him.” Along the journey through 4-H and FFA, memories are made that will make great stories down the road and people become inspirations and heroes without even knowing.
Life lessons learned
Morgan describes a memory made in the show ring that taught her an important life lesson. She was showing against her sister in the final drive of showmanship, and she walked in between the judge and her pig (a big “no no” in the show world). Her sister, Jocelyn, ended up winning. “I learned that you should always do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking,” Morgan says. Through the memories and the lessons, Morgan has grown tremendously through agriculture and as she has gotten older, she has taken on more responsibilities with the 4-H and FFA programs.
Finding way to help the next generation
Through Morgan’s memorable journey with 4-H and FFA, she had many experiences, and has advice for the younger generation. Most importantly, ASK QUESTIONS. “Don’t be afraid to go all the way in. If you don’t have an Ag background, don’t let that stop you… just go for it. It is a huge learning experience, remember that!” That it is; 4-H and FFA have changed Morgan’s life in so many ways, and she is so grateful for the many opportunities, life lessons, and memories she has had along the way.