It's hard to imagine how Tracy Clagett could be more committed to her new position as president of the Maryland chapter of the Future Farmers of America.
The 18-year-old Taylorsville resident has sung at three national FFA conventions in Kansas City, Mo., shown livestock at area fairs since she was 8 and, through FFA programs, has taught children about farming.
But she proved her complete dedication to FFA in May 1993, after a 1,200-pound steer that she was trying to handle landed on her and dislocated her shoulder.
Miss Clagett postponed surgery for seven months because she had a full schedule of FFA events and other agricultural activities that she wasn't about to pass up just to repair an inconvenient injury.
"I'm very stubborn, and if I want to do something I make sure I finish it before anything else happens," said Miss Clagett, whose sweet face and soft-spoken manner seem at odds with that unflinching determination.
With her wounded shoulder, Miss Clagett fulfilled her FFA and county and state fair obligations, relying on her family to push her shoulder back into its socket from time to time.
As if that weren't enough, she also had to manage her severe asthma attacks.
"All of these things don't set me back, they just help me to strive more," said Miss Clagett, who was elected president of Maryland's FFA chapter at the organization's convention last month in Hagerstown.
In her new position, Miss Clagett and her fellow officers will travel throughout the Maryland and to FFA meetings in other states, speaking to local FFA chapters and judging competitions.
Although Miss Clagett is the highest-ranking officer in the Maryland FFA, she stressed that she and her colleagues will work together in all activities.
"FFA has taught us to have organization, leadership and teamwork skills," she said.
A 1994 graduate of South Carroll High School, Miss Clagett joined 4-H 12 years ago and became a FFA member in 1990.
She has won several FFA public speaking competitions and traveled to Kansas City in 1991 and 1992 to participate in FFA national choruses.
Last year, Miss Clagett opened the FFA national convention in Kansas City singing the national anthem as a soloist.
"I sat in the audience and cried," said Miss Clagett's mother, Sherry Clagett.
Miss Clagett traces her interest in farming organizations to her grandfather's farm in Randallstown, which her father used to farm. After her grandfather died, the family sold the property.
"My sister started in 4-H and FFA, and I decided that I would follow in her footsteps," she said.
As a FFA member, Miss Clagett views her most important role as educating other young people about agriculture and farm life.
"We need to keep agriculture alive in the schools," she said.
To that end, Miss Clagett has participated in the "Food for America" program for third-graders at Mount Airy Elementary School.
"We told them that their bread does not come from the store, but from the farmer's field he has planted with wheat," she said.
Because of her obligations as Maryland FFA president, Miss Clagett has decided to cut back on her first-year college courses at Carroll Community College.
After two years at the community college, Miss Clagett plans to transfer to Western Maryland College and work toward a degree deaf education.
She said she also hopes to pursue a minor in the agricultural communications field and possibly work as a journalist specializing in agriculture.