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Dealing with hogs secures college tuition for 4-H'er
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
NETTLETON – Making a big deal of showing hogs has secured a college education for Lee County 4-H’er Taylor Scott.
When Taylor, 17, was just a toddler, she often accompanied her grandfather, Terry Patterson, on the daily rounds on his farm near Nettleton. Her favorite place was the hog barn, where she enjoyed observing the behavior of these intelligent, social animals.
“I loved being around animals and taking care of them, so it was natural for me to gravitate to the pigs because of my Papa Terry,” Taylor said. “Everything I know about them is because of him.”
Patterson was not surprised when his granddaughter expressed an interest in showing pigs. When Taylor turned 8, she joined 4-H so she could participate in the program’s swine project. Her parents, Kerry and Carrie Scott of Nettleton, thought this would be a good way for their daughter to learn responsibility for taking care of live animals and to direct her energy toward accomplishing goals.
Patterson, who currently is president of the Mississippi Pork Producers Association, saw another advantage that 4-H could offer his granddaughter.
“Taylor and I were riding home in my old pickup after a county hog show and she was counting the cash she had won,” Patterson said. “She told me she wanted to go to college, but she wanted to pay her own way instead of her mama and daddy having to do it, so I made a deal with her.”
He told Taylor he would help with the pigs. She promised to put all prize money into a college savings account. Taylor kept her word and has won more than $12,000 in prize money at the Mississippi State Fair and the Dixie National Junior Roundup. At the 2009 state fair, Taylor won Grand Champion Hog with her pig.
“Hogs are interesting animals, but they are not easy to manage,” Taylor said. “The most challenging thing is getting them to do what you want, not what they want. Once you train them, they will do what you want them to do.”
Taylor has deposited her winnings in the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition, or MPACT, plan offered through College Savings Mississippi. She will enter Itawamba Community College in Fulton this fall as a freshman.
“We have paid for two years of junior college and two years of senior college, so her future is set,” said Carrie Scott. “Taylor has been able to accomplish this goal despite competing only twice a year. Any money she earns from here forward will be used to pay other college expenses, such as books, dormitory fees and supplies.”
Taylor’s unwavering enthusiasm for 4-H and affection for her pigs has allowed her to be successful in the show ring and outside of it.
“Taylor does a great job and wants to do everything right,” said Lee County agricultural agent Belvia Giachelli of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “She wins many of her classes in county competitions, usually wins the district shows and is almost always in the Top 5 in the showmanship class at the state level.”
Even though Taylor’s primary focus has been the 4-H swine project, she also has excelled in the classroom and participated in many school activities and student groups. A senior at Nettleton High School, Taylor is a starting guard on the women’s basketball team. She also is on the tennis team and is a cheerleader for all sports. The youth group at her church keeps her involved with various community service projects.
“It’s very hard to balance all these things,” Taylor said. “I love pigs, I love basketball and I love my life. I just have to make time for all of it.”
The hogs are still No. 1 in her heart and she enjoys spending time with them.
“You can only feed them certain things at certain times, and you have to cut their hair and constantly teach them,” Taylor said. “Pigs are very smart, and I like to get out there in the pen and just have fun with them and see what they can teach me.”
Taylor will have one year of eligibility left with 4-H when she begins her freshman year at ICC. She plans to compete one last time at the state fair and Dixie National. When she accomplishes that goal, Taylor will turn her attention toward completing her college education to become a physical therapist.
“My experiences in 4-H have taught me to work hard to achieve greatness,” Taylor said. “I would definitely encourage young children to join 4-H because they will learn to develop their leadership skills and earn a way to a great education as well.”