Grymes Sixth Grader Receives Award in National Essay Competition

February 22, 2017

Grymes Sixth Grader Receives Award in National Essay Competition

Student Spotlight: Seth Wilbanks ‘19

Seth Wilbanks ‘19 loves the country life. Living on a cattle farm with his family, he enjoys working cows, fixing fences, driving tractors and working in – and on – barns. In fact, Seth’s poem of choice for his sixth grade Declamation was a cowboy poem, reflecting his affinity for the traditions and culture of cattle farming.

So when Seth and his family heard that the American Forage and Grassland Council was calling for submissions to the National Youth in Grazing Management Essay Competition, it was a no-brainer for him. “I love living on a farm,” Seth says with a big smile, “and I love to write, so when my dad asked me if I wanted to submit something for the contest I thought, sure!”

Run by the American Forage and Grassland Council as a way to engage youth in a national conversation about farming practices, the essay competition is aimed at encouraging youth of all ages to think about livestock, grazing management practices and equipment by sharing their personal experiences, thoughts and stories. Entries from all around the country are submitted in three age categories, 14 and Under, 14-18, and 19-22, and judged by a panel of AFGC members that represent various fields within the forage industry. Winning essays are published online and in forage industry magazines and newsletters, and winners are announced at the AFGC Annual Conference Awards Luncheon, with prize money awarded to the first and second place essays in each category.

“I wrote the essay during a really busy time, on top of homework and sports. I’m really proud of it. It reflects a lot of hard work.”

Seth’s essay focused on the topic of polywire and recalled a scary moment when his father got caught up in razor sharp wire and was dragged through the fields in a frightening incident involving a Kubota. Seth’s family uses polywire to divide paddocks so they can strip graze their beef cattle, a practice of making small amounts of grass available to cows each day to cut back on hay usage and reduce the amount of grass that cows waste. While polywire is a very effective tool for grazing management, its dangers are often overlooked. “It was a really scary moment for my family when my dad got caught up in the wire. It would have been horrible if it had been caught around his neck. The wire is so sharp that it could have slit his throat and he could have been killed. It’s something we’re really careful with now on the farm, and I thought it would be a good story to share because safety practices are an important part of farming and grazing management.”

Seth’s essay won second place in the 14 and Under category, and he is proud of his accomplishment. “I wrote the essay during a really busy time, on top of homework and sports. I’m really proud of it. It reflects a lot of hard work.”

“I’ve been speaking on stage for years at Grymes. Compared to Declamations, this is nothing!”

What’s more, the essay contest is just the first competition Seth has in his sights; next week, Seth will present his essay in the local 4-H Speech contest, putting the public speaking skills he learned at Grymes to work! “If I make it through the local speech competition, I’ll move on to the District 4-H Speech Competition after that, which would be pretty cool.” When asked if he’s nervous about taking his award-winning essay into a different competitive realm, Seth shrugs it off. “No, I’ve competed in the speech competition before and won first place last year, so this won’t be my first time competing in this event. I’ve been speaking on stage for years at Grymes. Compared to Declamations, this is nothing!”

Hats off to this future cattle farmer for taking the proverbial bull by the horns and achieving great things. We’re sure there will be many more to come!