As the state fair judge was walking past the magnificent heifers and market steers led by their young owners to make his final decision, Hadley Cooper’s entry, Layla, was uncharacteristically …
As the state fair judge was walking past the magnificent heifers and market steers led by their young owners to make his final decision, Hadley Cooper’s entry, Layla, was uncharacteristically antsy. The team usually works well together.
Hadley, wearing a blue FFA jacket with her name embroidered in yellow, calmly pulled Layla out of line and circled her around back into position.
“I was freaking out,” Hadley admitted, having her sights at the moment on the top prize. “It was my main goal to win for showmanship at the state fair.”
This wasn’t Hadley’s and Layla’s first time in the ring, having competed at dozens of shows in the west region, including the Denver Stock Show — a bucket list event for breeders. But the state fair was their most important moment together.
Layla is special, said Andrea Earhart, Hadley’s mother. The heifer has a unique look. Typically Hadley shows purebred Angus cattle, but Layla was cross-bred, “one of the first cross bred heifers that Hadley has shown,” Earhart said.
“She has a good combination of providing that showy look, but also being really thick and having a lot of substance,” she said.
The judge waited for Hadley to steady Layla, then walked to her and awarded her the state championship, later commenting that her ability to stay calm while adapting to the issue was impressive. It was Hadley’s first state championship for showmanship, adding to the family’s cattle business tradition.
Hadley’s grandfather, Larry Earhart, started the tradition by raising certified Angus. Then her mother, Andrea, found herself involved in the business. Now Hadley has her own herd of nine cows, of which Layla is her first champion.
Having started her herd when she was 8, Hadley participates in both 4-H and FFA. She can stay in 4-H until age 18, while you can only participate in FFA while attending high school.
Now a sophomore at Powell High School, Hadley plans to study agriculture in some form once she gets to college, possibly as a veterinarian, but it’s way too early to decide that now.
“I want to continue to raise our family’s herd and stay in the cattle industry,” she said.
She also wants to honor her grandfather, who passed away last year.
Larry Earhart, a graduate of Powell High School in 1966, purchased his first Angus heifers as a teenager and enjoyed showing cattle and building his herd with Andrea and Hadley. He was one of the first cattlemen in the area to ultrasound his herd to select for carcass traits and took pride in his cattle and crops.
As a farmer, he spent many hours “outstanding” in his field where he raised sugar beets, beans and feed crops, according to his obituary.
He meant the world to Hadley. “He’s the reason that I fell in love with showing cattle,” she said.
For Cooper, the blue ribbon for FFA beef showmanship was the realization of a long-term goal in her efforts to carry on the proud ranching traditions in her family.
“I feel like it’s a bigger win because I put more effort into being a good showman,” she said.
Earhart said Hadley decided to concentrate on FFA, rather than participating in sports or other fun extracurricular activities. There really isn’t time, she said.
“It’s a full time job,” Earhart said, adding, “she definitely has grown up being an advocate for cattle and agriculture. I think that’s part of what drew her to wanting to be a member of the FFA and to try out for the officer team this year.”
This year Hadley is serving as Powell High School’s parliamentarian. It is the duties of the parliamentarian to know and share information about parliamentary law and assist members in proper meeting procedure and etiquette so that we can accomplish the business of the chapter. They also assure that every member will be heard and that the majority prevails.
She may not have decided exactly what she wants to do after high school, but she is likely to start at Northwest College, Earhart said.
“[Northwest] allows her to get an education, but also still keep her cattle,” she said.
As for Layla, she will stay at the farm helping to increase Hadley’s herd and other possible champions in her breeding program.