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Roadmap to success

Story and photos by: Allison Parker 4/25/2019


Jana Owen, an eight-year Lincoln County 4-Her, says one of the portions of her 4-H project that is closest to her heart is raising cattle. Since she was in the fourth grade, Jana has traveled all over Middle Tennessee during the summer to show cattle.
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For more than 100 years, 4-H has welcomed young people into their organization with the goal of helping them navigate their own roadmap to success. One prime example of a student doing just that is Lincoln County High School junior, Jana Owen.

Jana’s 4-H story began long before she ever had the chance to compete in a contest of her own. Being a third generation 4-Her, you could say it was her destiny to plant roots in this organization.

The Tennessee teen began her eight-year 4-H journey in the fourth grade by participating in the livestock evaluation contest.

“At the time, I knew that livestock judging was a fun event that gave me time to hang out with my friends and look at animals,” says Jana. “Little did I know the judging team would open my eyes to opportunities I did not know existed.”

Since that first judging event, Jana has been an active competitor in 4-H. She has been a member of many state winning teams, competed in numerous national judging contests including national dairy judging and meats judging, and was a member of the National Champion Livestock Quiz Bowl team.

Her accomplishments as a 4-Her do not stop with team events. Jana was named the Level 1 state project winner in both Veterinary Science and Beef and was also a state finalist for the last two years in the state Citizenship area. To be named the winner in these areas, Jana completed an interview process and submitted a portfolio – a summary of a member’s project, leadership, and citizenship activities areas over the past several years.

The portion of her 4-H story that Jana says is closest to her heart is her work with show cattle. She is the fourth generation to raise cattle in her family, which today has 15 registered shorthorn cows. The Owens raise freezer beef and show cows for Jana and their son, Clay, at their farm in Taft.

“After countless hours in the barn, being recognized in the show ring makes me feel like all the hard work I spent with my cattle paid off,” says Jana. “One accomplishment I am most proud of is having the state reserve Champion shorthorn heifer as well as the Champion Bred by Exhibitor at the 2018 State Beef Exposition with my show heifer, Rhonda, that I raised on my family farm.”

Since Jana was a fourth grader, she and her family have traveled all over Middle Tennessee during the summer to show cattle. Her father, Dan Owen, and grandfather, Harold Owen, showed cattle when they were in 4-H.

Dan is not only a proud parent of Jana and Clay, but he is also a coach and 4-H agent to them as well. Dan has served as a University of Tennessee Extension 4-H Youth Development agent for 24 years, the last 14 in Lincoln County.

“As parents, [my wife] Charlotte and I wanted them to be involved in something,” says Dan. “I was so lucky that my kids had an interest in something I was so passionate about and that helps them grow into responsible young people.”

Jana says her dad has always been a major supporter and role model in her life.

“He has taught me and hundreds of 4-Hers life skills we would have otherwise never had,” says Jana. “I hope that one day I can give back to 4-H and be as selfless and humble as he is.”

After graduation, Jana hopes to put the life skills 4-H has taught her into play and continue building her roadmap to success in the animal science industry.

“4-H truly helps prepare members to be successful in whatever they are passionate about,” says Jana. “From the responsibility you learn from feeding cattle, to holding on to the commitment you made to a teammate, and even critical thinking skills and interview skills, 4-H really does offer it all and truly makes the best better!”

2019 State 4-H Congress

The 72nd Annual Tennessee 4-H Congress was held March 17-20 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The event’s theme was “A Roadmap to Success” and more than 400 members, volunteers, and Extension staff were in attendance.

The event is designed each year so that senior 9th and 10th grade 4-H members from each county may attend to help them develop a better understanding of citizenship, stimulate leadership experiences for 4-Hers, and create leaders on a statewide basis.

Participants took part in legislative visits and tours at the Tennessee State Capitol and Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Students sat in the seat of their elected representative or senator and held a mock session in the House and Senate, as well as elected their own Governor and Speaker of the House and Senate on official voting machines. Throughout the three days, students attended campaign rallies, gave speeches, and prepared for the election of new Congress officers. This year’s newly elected Congress officers, pictured above, are from left, Isaac Chandler, Anderson County, Speaker of the Senate; Carlin Cochran, Hickman County, Governor; and Leah Kennedy, Williamson County, Speaker of the House.

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