Conner raises rodeo goats as FFA project

Monday, June 13, 2011
Bailey Conner clips the toenails of one of the goats she raises on her farm near Malta Bend.

Santa Fe High School senior and FFA member Bailey Conner of rural Malta Bend, said that being a member of FFA had "definitely changed" her.

"I think that through FFA I've become more outgoing and into a more developed leader," she said, adding that as a freshman she could have never imagined that she would eventually do the things she has accomplished in organization.

Bailey, the daughter of Seth and Diana Conner, said joining FFA was a "predestined" decision. "My dad had grown up with FFA in high school and I've always been the farm kid, so it was just kind of decided for me that when I was in high school I would be a part of FFA," she said.

On April 15, Bailey was one of the just three percent of FFA members in Missouri who received the State FFA Degree at the Missouri FFA Convention on April 15 in Columbia.

For her Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) Bailey raises goats, which she then delivers and contracts out for rodeo events. She also works 25 or more hours a week as a lifeguard at the Salt Fork YMCA and Waverly swim club.

In raising the goats, Bailey said she has learned not to rush things. "Make sure you take really good care of them because if you don't things aren't going to work out for you and you're not going to profit anything from it," she said. "You just have to be very careful with what you do with your goats."

Working at the pool has taught her to have more patience and to work better with younger kids.

"I think its definitely going to help me in the long run that I am more able to communicate," she said.

Traveling to Washington D.C. to the Washington Leadership Conference last summer was the favorite FFA activity for Bailey.

"I was there for a week and I was the only one there from my chapter and it was really cool going and meeting people from other states," she said. "I roomed with three other girls I had never met before and so that was definitely something that was out of my element. But when the week was over I was really sad to be going home."

She would recommend to a freshman to join FFA because of all the opportunities.

"You don't have to be good at any one specific thing because FFA is so broad with activities and different leadership positions," she said. "There is something there for everybody."

Bailey has won many honors in FFA, starting out as Star Greenhand at the end of her freshman year. She won the Area 6 proficiency award in Specialty Animal Production and was also top four with Outdoor Recreation Proficiency Award last year. She has held several offices including historian as a sophomore, secretary as a junior and served as vice-president this year. She also was the Area VI chaplain through her senior year. Bailey has also been selected for the State FFA choir for the last three years.

She has been on several Career Development Event (CDE) teams including Floriculture last year and Horses this year, both which moved on to state competition. Other teams she participated on were Meats, Knowledge and Nursery Landscape.

In other school activities, Bailey serves as president of SADD and secretary of National Honor Society. She is a member of the FCCLA and was a member of the track team for two years.

She has been involved in rodeo most of her life competing mostly in break away roping, goat tying and cutting events. For the past four years she has been a member of the Missouri High School Rodeo Association, serving as student secretary as a sophomore and junior and as student president this year. She also shoots .22 light rifle and trap through the rodeo. In fact, she was selected as the National Rifle Association student ambassader for 2010 - 2011, after going through an application and interview process.

For eight years, Bailey was in Fairville-Reynolds 4-H club and participated in the Saline County Fair showing livestock.

Next fall, Bailey will attend Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas, where she will be on the rodeo team. She will be starting a degree in Ag Education and Ag Communications.

"After that I will go ahead and transfer on to a four year university to finish out my degree," she said. Her future plans are to teach agriculture on the high school level.

Her hobbies include, riding horses as much as she possibly can, roping calves and just being on the farm, "anything to help dad on the farm is what I enjoy the most."

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com