Camryn Farquhar, an athlete and a scholar, keeps picking up awards.
Recently, she was named Pasco County’s Career Technical Education High School Student of the Year.
She also was named Wesley Chapel High School’s Outstanding Senior.
And, those are just the latest of her many accolades.
She loves the classroom.
But, she feels most at home in the barn.
She grew up with horses. She used to raise hogs. Now it’s more about showing livestock, connecting with cows and learning all she can about the dairy industry.
“But, this is more than just farming,’’ Farquhar said.
The agriculture lifestyle, through the Future Farmers of America (FFA), includes training in business, leadership and public speaking. It included a stint as Champion Youth Ambassador for the Florida State Fair. It has propelled her to the University of Florida, where she plans a major in agricultural communications and education.
“When you say FFA, people sometimes have a preconceived idea of what it’s all about,’’ said Farquhar, who carried a 4.5 GPA and served in student government. “The truth is, it’s very important that the general public know about this industry. “It’s really important.
“It’s always nice to get honors, but I think it’s especially nice to be recognized in a field with so many great kids at our school and so many great kids throughout the county. I was just over the moon to be selected.’’
Farquhar, who competed in cross-country for Wesley Chapel and remains an active runner, always remembers being surrounded by animals. But, her interest really began when her mother, Erin, became an agriculture teacher.
Her mom came to the field by accident.
“I didn’t realize there were agriculture teacher jobs,’’ said Farquhar’s mother, a former special education teacher. “I was saying, ‘Why is there a barn at school?’ “But, when I stumbled into it and changed jobs, I immediately fell in love with it. It combines teaching with animals and plants. It probably would’ve been my passion earlier had I known it existed,” she said.
“It’s not like Camryn was pushed into this. She always had a natural interest. I know she got an award once and someone said, ‘Of course she did. Her mother is the ag teacher.’ But truly, she has made her own path. It’s not like we go home, sit around the kitchen table and talk about agriculture. She has developed this interest on her own.’’
Farquhar is the oldest (by 10 minutes) of triplets, along with siblings Ryan and Tifani, who are both headed to Florida State University. Ryan, who plays lacrosse and dabbles in FFA, plans a sports management major. Tifani, a projected criminology major, is best known as a standout diver, although she, too, has competed in FFA, but not to Camryn’s extent.
“We get compared to each other a lot, even though we are really different,’’ Farquhar said. “I think it’s an example of three people finding things they love and are passionate about, then following through. It’s not that one is better than the other. It’s just what you’re interested in.
“There were definitely advantages to having my mother be the (agriculture) teacher, but maybe some negative experiences, too, just an assumption that things were given to me. She has helped me and inspired me, but I worked pretty hard for everything I’ve done. It has mostly come about because I’ve loved it so much,” she said.
COVID-19 brought about a different way of celebrating Farquhar’s honors.
She learned of the CTE award (which included nominees from robotics, automotive, health and video production programs) through a Zoom call with school officials, including Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning. At Wesley Chapel, the Outstanding Senior award was noted by administrators delivering balloons, flowers and confetti poppers, along with plenty of mentions on social media.
Farquhar had been a well-decorated performer before, having earned honors at the Florida State Fair and Pasco County Fair, along with being selected to a state dairy judging group.
“These awards bring more focus to our program and that’s great,’’ Farquhar’s mother said. “We’re trying to foster a love of agriculture for the kids. They can learn about nutrition, developing foods, animal systems, environmental protections, and maybe that could become a career. At the very least, they will become more educated and become better consumers. We’re thrilled when agriculture is seen in that light and part of all aspects of school, not just having a notion that they’re just the ‘cowgirls.’
“I think Camryn was very honored just to be nominated. She was humbled by that. To actually be selected was very touching and meaningful.”
By Joey Johnston
Published July 15, 2020