While most 10-year old girls are out playing with their friends or watching their favorite streaming show, that’s not what Kaylee Scott does. The Miles Elementary school fourth grader is busy in many areas of the Runnels County 4H club, “This is my second year in 4H. I’ve done photography, showed rabbits, participated in the livestock skill-a-thon, judged wool, judged hay, identified breeds of swine, sheep, goats and cattle. I’ve identified cuts of meat, and grades of meat. I’ve also identified livestock equipment and supplies, kept a record book, done livestock judging, participated in consumer decision-making and participated in the food show and food challenge.”
Scott is also active in UIL at her school, participating in volleyball, acrobatics, spelling, chess, music memory, oral reading, Ready Writing and tried out for number sense. That’s a laundry list of work no matter what age you are, but for Scott it’s just another day. She’s grown up around cattle. Her mother, Bridget Scott, is the manager for Palmer Feeds and her father is an Angelo State University agriculture professor and research scientist, Dr. Cody Scott. Bridget was a member of the Runnels County 4H when she was growing up and still has friends who participated in 4H with her.
As they say in the farm and agriculture world; Miss Scott comes from good stock. She had an idea of what she took on when she joined the Runnels County 4H, “I kind of knew how much work it would be.” Scott has her favorite subjects and activities within 4H, “My favorite part is judging livestock. I like judging cattle mostly. For me, they’re a little easier to judge.” Bridget says that her daughter has always been around livestock, “She’s grown up around cattle and she’s a hard worker.”
Scott says that her day begins and ends the same, “I have to get up and feed the animals before school and come home and check on them after school to make sure they have feed and water and to make sure that they aren’t sick.”
Scott raises show rabbits, including Mini Rexes, New Zealands and Havanas, “My favorite rabbit is my new Havana named ‘Cookie.’ So far the Mini-rexes and Havana’s tend to be pretty sweet. But, I have a New Zealand that is pretty bananas.”
This year the busy fourth grader will enter 7 or 8 rabbits in the Runnels County Junior Livestock Show.
A lot of time also goes into horses, “I do Quarter horse shows, stock horse pleasure riding, equestrian pleasure riding, showmanship and halter.” Asked when she finds the time for “kid’s stuff,” she replies matter-of-factly, “Later in the night. I spend about 10 hours a week just on 4H stuff.” Scott is also the secretary of her 4H club and she eventually wants to show goats and cattle. That 10 hours doesn’t include all of her UIL commitments and the work with horses.
Scott won the Runnels County 4H food show last year with her dish, “Pasta bake.” She says that a lot of work went into preparing it, “I used venison for the protein. The venison didn’t have any antibiotics or hormones. We know that because we harvested the deer ourselves.” Bridget says that Scott is working on public speaking, “The hardest thing for her was talking to adults at the shows. We’re working on that.”
Raising animals to show is a process, from start to finish, “Feeding animals is the most work. A lot of work also goes into training them to be calm and get used to you. You have to let an animal get close to you and sniff you. They’ll get used to you but you can’t stop working with them because they’ll stop being used to you if you do.” She’s had the experiences of many farmers when it comes to working with unpredictable livestock, “I’ve been head-butted many times by goats. Horses have stepped on me, bottle babies sometimes get eager and will accidentally bite you when you’re trying to feed them and I have had a lot of rabbit scratches.” She also has 3 dogs, 1 cat, 9 horses, 5 rabbits and 4 more rabbits coming shortly.
Scott also learned how to tell when her animals aren’t feeling well, “If it’s a rabbit, normally you let them out of the cage and they’re happy, but if they aren’t feeling well, they won’t be playful. If you have an animal that gets sick, you have to check them more often.”
Scott has advice for anyone who wants to raise animals, “I’d tell them about the responsibility and that it’s lots of work and what you need to do and how often. Like in winter you have to break ice out of their water bowls. You’re going to have to take your own time. You don’t go home and play video games. You have to do the work. 4H is fun and you can get good scholarship money.” Many 10-year olds are thinking about what they want for Christmas but Scott is already thinking about scholarships.
Bridget says that Scott does almost all the work by herself and that she’s had people chastise her as a mother, saying that she’s pushing her daughter too hard. But, Bridget says it’s not them pushing her, “Kaylee pushes herself. She takes the initiative to ride horses, to tend animals and to study and participate in UIL.” Scott adds, “Sometimes with some kids, it’s their parents that actually do all of the work. My parents will help me feed if I’m running late but I do all of the work myself.”
As far as school goes, Scott says that her favorite subject is math.
The newspaper will feature a different 4H member each week in a series of articles over the new few months. We wish to thank Marty Vahlenkamp, the Runnels County Extension Agent, who proposed the series of articles and is setting up appointments.