Sampson’s Carlie Piercy may only be a junior in high school, but she already knows what her passion is, thanks to both her family and 4-H.
Since she was 7 years old , Piercy has been actively involved in the local 4-H program.
“My mom was in it when she was younger and enjoyed it,” shared Piercy. “It just started out as something to do on the side but I fell in love with it.”
As a result of her early and strong interest in 4-H, Piercy has taken advantage of the many opportunities that the program has offered over the years, wanting to be involved in as much as she could.
She has participated in a variety of 4-H summer workshops including ones focusing on art, sewing, cooking, sign language, and much more.
Piercy specifically noted that she enjoyed going on field trips with 4-H, recalling the opportunity she had to take a tour of North Carolina State University. “That’s what got me hooked on going there for college,” she noted.
Piercy has also always been very active in 4-H clubs. This year, she is the secretary of the Homerunner’s 4-H Club and the president of the Bull’s Eye 4-H Club which focuses on livestock judging and skill-a-thon, something she’s been interested in since she was 11 years old.
In addition to competing in shows, livestock judging is also teaching her other valuable skills, her mom Kim pointed out. “It has helped her gain the skills needed so that she can pick a good heifer to break and take to shows.”
As for the skill-a-thon aspect, Piercy explained that it is all about building one’s knowledge, noting that she studies different breeds, meats, feed, and equipment before taking a written test. “It’s more about studying and getting prepared where the judging is more hands-on.”
As she reflected on her experiences thus far in 4-H, Piercy credited 4-H program assistant Charmae Kendall with nurturing her interest in 4-H, in general, but specifically in livestock.
“When she came, the livestock program really started to boom,” recalled Piercy. “She and her husband Dustin are the coaches (for livestock judging and skill-a-thon).”
Out of all that 4-H exposes kids to, it is cattle that became Piercy’s passion, one that has its roots in the Piercy family.
“I’ve grown up on a livestock farm. We’ve always had cattle since I can remember,” Piercy shared. “I just love cattle and have always been interested in them. There’s really no other explanation for it.”
Piercy’s involvement in 4-H took her spark of interest and fanned the flame, presenting her with opportunities to show cattle.
This year, Piercy has four heifers she is showing and shared that getting prepared for shows takes a lot of work.
Her daily routine involves feeding her cows two times a day and giving them a bath once a day during show season, a chore which involves bathing, drying, and brushing.
Then there’s the training that’s involved, noted Piercy, pointing out that the heifers people see at shows aren’t that clean and well-behaved apart from some serious work.
“You have to work with them to get them used to the judges walking around them and things like that,” explained Piercy. “Each heifer has a different personality and you have to get them to trust you because when you go to a show you’re the only thing they know so they’re going to cling to you.”
“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” her mom agreed.
As she looks forward to her next show, she recalled some of her past accomplishments in the show ring.
This past year, she won Grand Champion Intermediate Showman at the State Fair with her show heifer, Sugar. Around the same time last year, she also won the top overall honor in the Eastern Carolina Showmanship Circuit, a series of nine shows held in Sampson and other surrounding eastern North Carolina counties.
While seeing all her hard work pay off in a win is great, Piercy shared that she also loves showing cattle — which she will be doing most every weekend from now through the State Fair in October— because she has the chance to meet new people and make friends, friends that become like family.
While showing cattle takes up quite a bit of time, Piercy isn’t one to let opportunities just go by. As a member and the current secretary of the National Junior Red Angus Youth Association, she recently had the chance to travel to Montana and represent North Carolina in the 2013 National Junior Red Angus Round Up. While there, she got to visit four ranches and three cattle improvement facilities.
During her time in Montana, Piercy also competed in a variety of competitions, winning second place in essay, scrapbook, print advertising, graphic design and team advocacy; first place in photography, poster, Powerpoint, T-shirt design, cattle evaluation/judging and weight guessing. As a result of her performance, she was awarded Highest Overall Junior and Best-All-Around Individual.
Following the trip to Montana, Piercy was one of only 20 youth accepted on the NC Beef Tour which was held during the first week in August.
“That was a big leadership thing for me,” she noted. “We got to tour the whole industry, see all sides of it.”
These experiences that she has had the opportunity to pursue have been made possible through 4-H, stressed Piercy.
“A lot of doors of opportunity have been opened through 4-H. I’ve built relationships with the people at the 4-H office and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of important people in the community and in the industry,” shared Piercy, adding that while the skills she is gaining and the relationships she is making benefit her now, she knows they will also continue to help her in the future.
“I wanted her to be involved in 4-H because it helps build self-confidence and leadership skills and it has done that for her,” said her mom, remembering how Piercy wouldn’t speak in front of a crowd when she first entered 4-H but that now she speaks often at various events and meetings. “The 4-H program has provided endless opportunities for growth and it teaches kids responsibility.”
Her positive experiences with 4-H have led to Piercy wanting to make the mission of 4-H her own. Upon completing high school, she plans to attend Sampson Community College then transfer to North Carolina State University where she is interested in majoring in animal science and minoring in agriculture business and extension. “I want to become a livestock extension agent.”
Until then, Piercy continues to enjoy her involvement in 4-H and encourages anyone who is interested to give 4-H a try. “I love getting new people started in 4-H and sharing my passion.”
Coming up next with 4-H is the 2013 Prestage Farms Youth Livestock Round-Up show on Saturday, Aug. 24. For more information about the show or about 4-H in general, please contact 910-592-7161 and visit the Sampson County Cooperative Extension’s website at http://sampson.ces.ncsu.edu.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.