Many Future Farmers of America honored at Manatee County Fair

jdeleon@bradenton.comJanuary 26, 2014 

PALMETTO -- The moment to shine came for many aspiring farmers, veterinarian and the like Saturday night at the Manatee County Fair to see who was the best in show.

The months of work paid off, and many students walked away winners at the 4-H Future Farmers of America awards ceremony.

For Bailey Henderson, 10, it was a big night, as he took home multiple honors for his livestock.

"It feels pretty good," Bailey said. "I worked pretty hard feeding them."

It was the first time for Bailey,

from Port Charlotte, competing at the Manatee County Fair, having competed at another fair once prior. Her mom helped her get involved, she said.

"We both wanted goats and we both really chicken and rabbits," Bailey said. "We decide to show them all."

Bailey's father, Sean Henderson, was proud of the effort his daughter put into the competition.

"She put a lot into it, but she got a lot out of it," Henderson said. "That's what this is all about."

A special honor was bestowed upon Jessica Embach, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, at the awards. She was this year's recipient of the Randy Ballard award given to a graduating senior each year for demonstrating leadership.

For Jessica, it was a dream come true.

"It started six years ago at this exact same ceremony," Jessica said. "I told my mom, I want that to be me."

Her mother, Patty Toft, beamed with pride.

"It's the highest honor in the fair, I think," Toft said with a tear streaming down her cheek.

Fair officials chose Jessica because of the leadership she portrayed teaching and guiding the younger children.

"It feels really good just to share everything I know," Jessica said. "It's just so cool to watch them grow up and do what I do, it feels so good inside."

Now Jessica looks forward to college where school hope to study education to be one day teach agriculture.

Another big winner at this year's awards ceremony was Colby Quattlebaum.

"It's quite exciting, actually," Colby said as he listened for his name. "It's pretty hard, it takes a lot of work."

Colby, 12 and a 6th grader at Community Christian School, worked hard feeding his animals before and after school, he said. But for him it's all about being with family, he said.

"My brother used to do it," Colby said. "He's in college."

His mother, Valerie Quattlebaum, is proud what the program has done for both of her boys including her eldest who found his niche as a result and is now studying to be a large animal veterinarian, she said.

"It's just an excellent program for kids to learn work skill and responsibility," Quattlebaum said.

Colby was surrounded by family.

"I'm very proud of him, very very proud," Quattlebaum said. What we love about it is that's it's a family project, we don't just send him out to do his chores."

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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