Molino 4-H Member Falls In Love With An Animal. And A Way Of Life.

March 21, 2021

submitted by Scott Angle, UF/IFAS

An 1,100-pound heifer can be a little intimidating even if you’re not a 60-pound fourth-grader. Fear was no match for Tucker  Padgett’s fascination, though, when the middle-schooler tending to the animal invited her to jump into the pen to help.

Tucker was at a Santa Rosa County Fair 4-H prep meeting with her goats. UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County 4-H agent Aly Schortinghouse had a hunch that Tucker would find interest in cows, so she had arranged for Tucker’s visit to the pen.

It went way beyond interest. Tucker, who’s now a seventh-grader who lives in Molino, says she fell in love that day, with an animal and a way of life. The Black Angus named Blake Shelton kissed her. Tucker reciprocated with a fistful of Jolly Ranchers. That night she went home and told her parents she wanted a calf.

The next test was faith. Tucker sold 40 goats and many of her chicks to raise the money to buy a calf from Barnes Feed Store. For a 10-year-old, that’s betting the farm.

She named the heifer Baby and worked for months to grow her. She brushed, cleaned, halter-trained and arranged for veterinary checkups. Tucker and Baby went to 14 competitions in Florida and Alabama—county fairs and jackpot shows. Baby herself turned out to be a jackpot, as she and Tucker earned nearly $5,000 in premiums

Tucker is now a 13-year-old with eight cows and intends to breed them to grow the herd. While she’s still fond of Baby, she’s not sentimental. Baby’s not a pet, she’s a producer. Tucker is learning about artificial insemination, selecting the bulls to breed her heifers, and arranging for professional techs to impregnate the animals.

The growing herd got the attention of neighbors who moved into Tucker’s neighborhood in Molino a year ago. Hunter, 14, started asking questions and developing an interest in beef cattle. His sister Morgan, 12, wants to know more about dairy cows.

Hunter and Morgan haven’t committed to an animal yet, but they’re learning from a young master, showing up at the barn at 6 p.m. every night where Tucker is teaching them to wash, brush, treat for hair growth, clip, tie and walk the animals.

Tucker is a member of the JFCA and the Northwest Florida Cattlemen’s Association. She has addressed meetings of both associations to share her story.

It’s a classic UF/IFAS Extension 4-H story. It’s how a 4-H agent put opportunity in front of a kid, changed her life, and set her on a course to become a leader. The early signs are there in the hours Tucker now spends daily not only tending to her animals but extending that opportunity to others of her generation.

Pictured top: Tucker Padgett with J. Scott Angle, the University of Florida’s vice president for agriculture and natural resources, during the UF/IFAS leader’s visit to the area in December 2020. Pictured inset: Tucker Padgett with her calf, Baby. The pair has gone to 14 competitions in Florida and Alabama, earning nearly $5,000 in premiums. Photos UF?IFAS for, click to enlarge.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).


16 Responses to “Molino 4-H Member Falls In Love With An Animal. And A Way Of Life.”

  1. Jennifer Nagim on March 23rd, 2021 7:06 pm

    So happy to see this and to have followed your story for years. You and your family helped bring chickens into our world and we have been so happy for that.

  2. Wendy Meredith on March 23rd, 2021 4:04 pm

    Way to go Tucker. You’re an amazing young lady with a very bright future. Congratulations!!!

  3. Aunt Candy on March 22nd, 2021 6:38 pm

    Way to go Tucker! Good to see you are upholding the “Good Ole Molino Girl” status for all of us! I look forward to seeing what you do next. I know Mom and Dad are So proud of you!

  4. Cece Campbell on March 22nd, 2021 3:46 pm

    It has been such a pleasure to watch Tucker grow up, and hearing about her animal adventures. We are so proud of this amazing young lady! I am certain that her future is very bright. For parents who are considering new activities to enhance their children’s chances of College acceptance and/ or scholarships, my recommendation is find a 4-H club as early as possible!! There is not much that can compare with the large variety of experiences offered through these clubs! Even “City Slickers” will find great opportunities to serve and learn alongside their children!

  5. Darron Hadley on March 22nd, 2021 11:42 am

    Very proud of you Tucker. Show other kids how it’s done. Great up and coming young lady. Unk D.

  6. Keith & Shelley on March 22nd, 2021 9:28 am

    Tucker, we are so proud to know you and to have done business with you! You are an amazing young lady with wisdom and maturity beyond your young years! You have some pretty amazing parents who are super supportive of you and encourage you in your endeavors!

  7. Tammy Wooton on March 22nd, 2021 8:09 am

    So proud of you Tucker. You are an amazing young lady! Hunter is proud of you too, “Sissy”.

  8. Evelyn Johnson on March 21st, 2021 7:44 pm

    Tucker is an amazing young lady with a great work ethic. She will go far in life.

  9. Ben & Donna Porter on March 21st, 2021 4:41 pm

    We are all sooooo very proud of Tucker aka(Tater). Keep up the work girl!!!! You too mom & dad! Love Yaw!!!!

  10. Lorileigh Kent on March 21st, 2021 4:14 pm

    Tucker, you never stop surprising! Keep doing what you love, and never give up on your dreams!! You are a mentor and many young eyes want to emulate you!!! GREAT JOB TO YOU & THE VILLAGE THAT SURROUNDS YOU!

  11. Allison on March 21st, 2021 3:06 pm

    So proud of you, Tucker! You are a wonderful young lady with such a bright future! You have worked so hard and it is paying off! Keep it up!

  12. Jeff Howard on March 21st, 2021 2:24 pm

    Great story! Well done, Tucker. Very proud of you.

  13. JimC on March 21st, 2021 9:13 am

    Tucker is a special young lady in a lot of ways, and her future is wide open! Mom and Dad have done a great job with this sweetheart!

  14. JTV on March 21st, 2021 8:10 am

    I love this story, Thank you Tucker

  15. Nikki & Roy on March 21st, 2021 8:02 am

    Congratulations Tucker! You are quite the adventurous young lady! Proud of your accomplishments and everything you do!

  16. SRudd on March 21st, 2021 1:39 am

    Way to go Tucker!!! We are proud of you!

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