Animal husbandry. Leadership. Public speaking. Compassion. Although these words might seem like a mismatched list at first glance, they are just a few of the traits that one young lady can attribute to her involvement in youth programs like 4-H and FFA. Catherine Stangl, Kingfisher, Okla., has been showing hogs competitively since she was just a toddler, following in her sister’s footsteps. When she turned 9, she joined 4-H, and later became active in FFA. And, she has taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to her.
“This industry is a really good industry to grow up in, and I think we all become better people toward other people, whether it’s being nice or just being there for them,” Stangl said.
The high school senior excels both in and out of the show ring and credits her parents for her early and constant exposure to agriculture, raising her in a Christian home with a strong work ethic and value system. In addition to her parents, Meg and Greg, she also credits her oldest sister for encouraging her involvement in FFA.
“My parents have taught me right from wrong, and I’m forever grateful that they are the reason I know so much about livestock and that I got to grow up on a farm with numerous different animals. My oldest sister is the reason I started showing and the reason I joined FFA; without her I wouldn’t have the drive that I do,” Stangl said.
Another person she gives appreciation to for helping her with her show pig project is John Staude. During the past two years, he has taught her so much, increased her love of livestock and showing even more, and helped improve her showmanship skills. She said she is forever thankful for him becoming “my second dad and helping me achieve so many of my goals through showing.”
Stangl enjoys showing her barrows and gilts at the local, state and national levels, but she also finds value in multiple other contests. The Kingfisher FFA chapter is very competitive and highly successful, having won the two-teacher Oklahoma Sweepstakes Award the past 19 years. In 2017, Stangl’s Parliamentarian Procedure team won at the regional level and advanced to state FFA competition. In 2018, she was part of the Ag Issues Forum team that won in Oklahoma and claimed the National Championship in October.
“I loved it because I am kind of an arguer, so I wanted it my way or no other way,” she said with a smile.
The Kingfisher FFA team included seven members that presented a skit set to resemble a courtroom. The issue they presented was over the temporary water lines and the oil industry, an ongoing controversial topic in their home county. Stangl said she and her peers spent countless hours practicing and had wonderful community support.
“Our FFA chapter is very well-known, and we come from a really good community that is there for us,” she said. “When we were preparing for nationals, we would go to several companies and organizations whether it was an oil company or Rotary, and we presented our skit, and they helped us make it better.”
In addition to Parli-pro and Ag Issues, she has also competed in Food Science, Floriculture, Livestock Judging, Meat Judging, Animal Science Quiz Bowl and Marketing.
Lessons in Leadership
The ultimate culmination of the time Stangl has spent in her 4-H and FFA activities are the leadership experiences she has gained. She knows that those skills will carry through the rest of her life. She is the current Parliamentarian of the Kingfisher FFA chapter, just finished her term as President of the Kingfisher County 4-H Ambassadors and has served as a Northwest District 4-H officer.
“The reason I have such great leadership skills is because of the great organizations I’ve been involved in. They have given me so many leadership skills and made me a better person. I have gotten to travel the U.S. because of FFA and 4-H, and most importantly they have given me the opportunity to meet some of my best friends and make the greatest lifelong experiences and memories that I will cherish forever,” she said.
Stangl recognizes her former FFA advisor Lori Burns for helping her achieve her goals outside of the showring. She said she has learned a lot from Mrs. Burns about parli-pro, leadership and public speaking.
Because of her love of livestock, opportunities she’s experienced, and friendships formed, Stangl is looking forward to continuing a pathway in the industry. After she graduates next May, she said she plans to attend a junior college and participate on its livestock judging team. She would like to become certified in Magna Wave therapy and ultimately become a livestock chiropractor.
She encourages others to get involved in FFA, 4-H or youth breed associations.
“Just do it because let me tell you something, if it wasn’t for this industry I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I don’t think I would like the type of person I am if I didn’t have FFA and 4-H in my life. It will be the best decision you make; I promise you that. You will meet lifelong friends and learn so much more about everything in life and who you are supposed to be in this world. Dream big.”
From a toddler driving a pig and following in her sister’s footsteps to competing on the national FFA stage, Catherine Stangl doesn’t just talk the talk. She’s dreamed big, worked hard and achieved the goals she has set for herself. She is proof that hard work does pay off. And she is thankful for family, teachers, friends and mentors that have helped build those skills along the way.