Jackson County 4-Her selected as Florida junior beef ambassador

Long before she joined the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club, Caitlin Caudill liked to pretend she was a veterinarian, treating her teddy bear or stuffed cow for a make-believe illness or injury. When she turned 11 and got her first real cow—a Charolais heifer—she already had a passion for the livestock industry and caring for animals.

That passion was on full display when Caudill, now 15, recently competed to become the new Florida junior beef ambassador.

To be selected, Caudill had to demonstrate both her public speaking skills and knowledge of the beef industry. The day-long competition included a mock media interview, a product promotion scenario and a presentation to group of would-be consumers.

“I was super nervous at the beginning, but then when I began the competition, my nerves went away because I knew I had to be confident in myself,” Caudill said. “I was so excited when I won!”

Participating in 4-H public speaking activities helped her feel more comfortable in front of a crowd, Caudill said. “4-H has also strengthened my communication skills to where I am able to carry on a conversation with people and communicate more adequately, which is very important when you are promoting a product to customers,” she added.

“Caitlin is a very active 4-H member,” said Angel Granger, 4-H agent for UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County.  Caudill joined Walton County 4-H in 2011 and transferred to Jackson County 4-H in 2014. She serves as vice-president for the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club and as president of the Jackson County 4-H Youth Council.

In addition to these duties, Caudill regularly shows cattle and participates in livestock, poultry and meat judging. She currently cares for 10 Charolais cattle. “Each cow has its own name and personality, and they are truly my pride and joy,” she said.

As Florida junior beef ambassador, Caudill will represent the state’s beef industry at various events, such as the Jackson County Fair. “My main goal is to be the spokesperson for the industry and promote it in a positive manner. I also have the opportunity to write for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Magazine,” she said.

Caudill will make her first appearance as Florida junior beef ambassador September 15 to 18 at the Southern Women’s Show in Orlando, Florida.

After high school, Caudill hopes to attend the University of Florida to study animal science. She then plans to go on to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and become a large animal veterinarian. “I want to help farmers and ranchers take care of their animals because these are the people who have helped me become who I am today. I would also love to be the commissioner of agriculture for the state of Florida one day,” she said.

“I am very proud of Caitlin and all she has accomplished,” said Stacey Warden, leader of the 4-H Jackson County Livestock Club. “We take a lot of pride that she will be representing Jackson County and Florida in this program.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Angel Granger, 850-482-9620, amgranger@ufl.edu

Stacey Warden, 850-693-3275, cntrydenise@yahoo.com

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Caudill