My name is Emily Brite, and I am the eighteen year old daughter of Ellen and J.G. Brite of Granbury, Texas.  I was lucky enough to grow up on twenty-two acres of land about five miles outside of Granbury. 

I believe that every person is unique and has an identity all his or her own.  I believe that my identity has come from my extensive involvement in 4-H. Our circumstances may determine who we are, but we determine who we become. I became a third generation 4-Her when I was eight.   When I was just learning about the opportunities in 4-H, I dabbled in a few projects such as food challenge, shooting sports and swine.  It didn’t take long for me to find my niche in the sheep project.  My parents thought that Southdowns would be a good fit for me, since they were a smaller breed and I was rather small at the time.  The more I was around my sheep, the more I enjoyed them. The Hood County Livestock Show and the Southwest Exposition and Livestock Show in Ft. Worth were the only two shows I showed at in 2009. I placed third in my class in my very first Hood County Show, and I was thrilled.  When 2010 rolled around, I showed my Southdowns at Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, in addition to our Hood County Show. One of my wethers was Reserve Breed Champion at the Hood County Show that year, but I didn’t place very high at the larger shows.  

Every year since 2010, I have showed in all of the major stock shows and several other shows in Texas, including San Angelo, Waco, Abilene and Fredericksburg. That requires purchasing and raising fifteen to twenty lambs each year.  Sending my show lambs to the “truck” at the end of the show is not something I enjoy.

My first major accomplishment with my Southdowns came in 2014 when my market lamb was Reserve Breed Champion at San Antonio and I was awarded a scholarship.  There have been many high placings since then, but that one was very special to me.  I have made the sales at Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin and have won several showmanship classes. I was named one of the top senior showman of the market lamb show in San Angelo in January of 2018.  Being able to bring out the best in the animal I am showing is very rewarding to me.  I like to believe that I have been able to get my less expensive lambs a higher placing using my showmanship skills.  I can remember back to the days that I had to depend on my parents to give me signals from outside the ring if my lamb’s stance wasn’t quite right.  They taught me well. 

The more I learned about what 4-H had to offer, the more I took advantage of activities such as livestock skillathons and sheep educational presentations. I got involved in both of those activities when I was still a junior 4-Her in 2012. Those challenges have increased my communication skills, taught me to focus, given me a strong self-confidence and taught me more about livestock than what I would have learned just by daily contact with my sheep.  In 2017, I was fortunate enough to win five of the seven skillathons I competed in and placed second in the other two.  That same year, my Hood County team won the livestock skillathon contest at State 4-H Roundup, where I was high-point individual.   In addition, I won the Educational Presentation - Sheep category at State Roundup in 2016 and 2017.  Although I had the highest skillathon test score at San Antonio in 2018, I finished third in the overall competition. The good part was that one of my best friends won the scholarship.  Had I won, no one would have gotten it, because I had already received a scholarship with my breeding ewe just a few days before. 

In 2015, I was fast enough and strong enough to catch a calf at the San Antonio Calf Scramble. I was the fourth contestant, and the first girl I might add, to cross the finish line.  With the money I won, I expanded my sheep project by purchasing a breeding ewe.  For the next year, “Robin” and I traveled over 5000 miles competing in large and small shows.  The highlight of the year was the trip to the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky.  What a wonderful learning experience that was.  I saw breeds of sheep I didn’t even know existed.  I was even expected to show a fitted Dorset that was as big as a large calf when the judge asked contestants to switch lambs in the showmanship class.  Chalk that up to another learning experience!  Robin and I returned to the N.A.I.L.E. in 2016.  

My ewe, Robin, had a very large buck lamb in 2017 and I showed him at the San Antonio Livestock Show in February of 2018, where he placed fourth in his class and made the sale.  That same month, Robin had twins, just three weeks after placing first in the junior and second in the open breeding shows at Ft. Worth.  My other breeding ewe took Grand Champion Southdown at San Antonio, blessing me with another scholarship.  My goat was in the top twelve out of seventy-two, and barely missed the sale.

I also caught a calf in the Austin Ultimate Scramble in 2015 and bought my first medium wool lamb, which I showed in Austin the next year.  In 2016, I caught another calf at Austin and added a boer goat to my sheep project.  I also bought a second goat.  He was Champion Heavy Weight at the Hood County Show and Reserve Champion Goat Overall. I also took him to Houston where he was Reserve Division Champion in the heavy weight division. 

In January of 2018, another of my goats was Grand Champion Goat at the Hood County Show and provided me with some money for college.  The banners, buckles, trophies and ribbons are great at the time they are earned, but the memories and friendships that come from being in 4-H will last forever.  They will never fade or tarnish. 

My 4-H career has not been all about the show ring and competitions. Hood County Council, District 8 4-H Council, Texas State 4-H Council, and serving as a 4-H Livestock Ambassador have given me the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a leader and to use that knowledge to educate people.  In 2017, the opportunity came for me to partner with Texas Farm Bureau at Earth Day in Dallas.  I spoke with many individuals who were not aware where some of their food actually comes from.  Another activity I am involved in is educating people about genetically modified organisms through Facebook posts.  At the end of each posts, I remind others that if they clothed or fed themselves that day, they should thank a farmer.  For too long, there has been too little appreciation for those who are trying to feed the world.  

Outside of 4-H, I have been a four-year member of FFA and a member of the First United Methodist Church youth group. I ran cross country and played basketball in high school.

At the end of each 4-H year, many 4-hers submit a record book highlighting all of their 4-H project activities, community service projects, leadership roles and additional involvement outside of 4-H.  The competition is limited at the state level to senior 4-H members.  For the last two years, my sheep record book has advanced from district to the state level. In 2017, I was excited when I was told that my record book had been awarded first place and that I would be going to Washington, D.C. with other record book winners.  That was a fantastic trip.  I visited war memorials, the capitol, the Holocaust Museum, the Pentagon and the Smithsonian, just to mention a few inspiring places. 

There is a story in the Bible about the wise man who built his house on “the rock”, so that he would have a solid foundation for his life.  That is what the 4-H community and my parents have helped me do.  My future plans include getting a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science and minoring in pediatric nursing.  I hope to make a difference in the lives of others.  As for 4-H I will always be an advocate for 4-H and what it has to offer young people. 

As my 4-H career comes to a close, my sheep and I would like to thank my parents and all the other people who have held the ladder for me while I reached for the stars these past ten years. They are my heroes!