Life in Cow Country: FFA students on magazine cover


When Adair County High School Junior Piper Kemp learned she may be included in a Cow Country article, she was excited to tell her mom. Instead, her mom had an even bigger surprise for her: not only did Piper make it into the article, she and fellow students Gracie Gist and Trenton Page were featured on the front cover of the June 2024 issue. Cow Country News is published by the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association and is mailed to every member of the organization.
“I couldn’t tell Gracie or Trenton because it was supposed to be a surprise. So, it was a hard secret to keep,” Kemp said.
She held the secret well, however. Gist recalled, “I didn’t know that I was going to be on the cover until it was put up online.”
The cover photo itself was taken at the first-ever Kentucky Junior Cattlemen’s Association Cattle Working Contest. The contest was held at Western Kentucky University’s L.D. Brown Ag Expo Center in Bowling Green and was made possible through collaboration with the Kentucky Beef Network, the Kentucky Beef Council, and the Kentucky Beef Quality and Care Assurance program.
Upon learning of the contest, the Adair County FFA knew they had to participate.

“We found out about it about two months (before the contest) and decided to train some teams,” said Kirby Hancock, advisor of the Adair County High School FFA and a farmer.
Not only did the teams have to be trained before the competition, as the contest involved the handling of live cattle, all participants had to be certified through the Beef Quality and Care Assurance program. The program ensures the humane treatment of livestock and the safety of meat products.

Kemp was the first person in her family—a family that runs a commercial farm—to be BQCA-certified. Describing what this accomplishment means for her, Kemp said, “It has allowed me to feel more confident in myself and the cattle that I produce.”
As for the training itself, Page remembers, “We worked for a couple of months practicing different methods and techniques on cattle in our facilities. We quickly found what worked best for us as a team, and got comfortable doing it quickly and efficiently.”
Gist echoed this sentiment, as she and Piper “have been working cows together for years, probably as long as we have been friends. We know what works best for us and what to do to get it done.”
Ultimately, two teams were dispatched to the competition from Adair County High School. Team A was comprised of Kemp, Gist, Page, and Kaylee Richard. Anslie Spoon (who also appeared in Cow Country within the article donning an Adair sweatshirt), Kayden Greene, Brody Brock, and Zane Gist made up Team B. The teams placed fifth and seventh places, respectively, out of 13 participating teams.

Team A - 5th Place
Team A - 5th Place
Team B
Team B

The contestants were tasked with working cows in chutes, dosing vaccinations, giving out dewormers, and more under strict time limits. The process involved communication, problem solving, and collaboration between each team of three.
“It’s definitely a contest that can put you under pressure,” Page said.
Agriculture extension agent Nick Roy, when asked what it means to see the students on Cow Country, said, “For me, the opportunity of some of our youth to be on the cover of Cow Country…demonstrates the investment of our community on our local youth.”
He was adamant this would not have been possible without support from Adair Countians and, of course, the diligent work of the students themselves.
“Being on the cover of Cow Country is huge for Adair County as we are a small community but it also shows how determined we are to succeed,” Kemp said. “We are very fortunate to have a wonderful ag program.”
The Cattleman’s Association plans to make the competition an annual event. While Page has graduated with the Class of 2024, Gist and Kemp plan to return to the competition next year.
By Kenley Godby

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