Springfield teen chosen to represent Missouri in pageant
Maya Hufman spent the first 11 years of her life in a place few people would associate with agriculture. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, the now 17-year-old makes it her mission to educate others about the value of agriculture.
Maya discovered the depth of her passion for agriculture after moving to Springfield, Mo., with her family in 2014. After getting settled in the Ozarks, Maya’s parents, Matt and Dawn, sought out a 4-H club for Maya, and her brothers, Micah and Zeke.
Through the Shooting Stars 4-H Club, Maya has developed her own livestock projects. She has raised and shown Bantam and Standard chickens, Welsh Harlequin and Ancona ducks, Giant Flemish, Mini Lop and Tan rabbits, and Red Angus cattle.
Maya has won many championship ribbons at the local and state level with her poultry, rabbits and cattle. However, her favorite aspect of showing livestock is the ability to talk about her animals to young fairgoers.
“At the fairs I took out my roosters and animals in order to teach kids coming through,” Maya explained. “I would just talk about it. It came naturally. I was advocating and didn’t even realize I was advocating for agriculture.”
Her natural ability to communicate about the agriculture industry spurred Maya to pursue a much larger stage for her message. Last fall, Maya competed in the Missouri Teen Miss United States Agriculture pageant. Though a newcomer to pageants, Maya had much success. She won the state crown.
The Miss United States Agriculture program promotes the motto, “Teach. Inspire. Advocate.” Judges select winners based on a contestant’s knowledge, poise and interview skills. The program gives women a platform to convey the importance of agriculture.
In June, Maya competed as the reigning Missouri Teen Miss United States Agriculture in the program’s national pageant in Orlando, Fla. After several days of interviews, speeches and competitions, Maya won the national crown of Teen Miss United States Agriculture. “This was my first pageant, and I just really wanted to help people in urban areas understand and appreciate what agriculture does for the country,” Maya commented.
Though now she dons a satin sash and jeweled crown when she advocates for agriculture, Maya’s been talking about crops and livestock for years. “If you have the opportunity to buy American-grown beef, then buy it. If you have the opportunity to buy from a local farmer, then do it. These are the people who are truly passionate about feeding you,” Maya said.
Maya and her family live in a city subdivision, yet she has found ways to get involved with livestock. She has raised champion poultry in her backyard. In addition, Maya has bred and raised show-quality Giant Flemish rabbits in her basement.
“A lot of people do not think of rabbits as livestock, they think of rabbits as a pet. But they are livestock and are meant to be used as livestock,” Maya stated.
When friends or fellow homeschool classmates visit, Maya educates them about her Giant Flemishes’ versatility.
“The Giant Flemish are hardy, and thick-boned with a lot of meat. So, they are dual-purpose when it comes to fur and meat,” Maya explained.
Maya has discovered that her rabbits are a way to teach people who are unfamiliar with livestock about different aspects of agriculture. While visitors play with the baby rabbits, Maya explains how she will keep some of the rabbits, show a few of them and sell the rest.
“It’s a cool thing to use the rabbits to teach the basis of farm life, the basics of sorting through your stock and the keep/cull process,” Maya said.
Three years ago, with the help of a family friend from church, Maya expanded her livestock projects to include cattle. Scott Martin, owner of Sac River Land and Cattle Company, taught Maya how to select, train and show Red Angus cattle. In the spring and summer, Maya works daily with her show cattle at Sac River Land and Cattle Company.
In addition to her involvement with livestock, Maya has held leadership positions in numerous organizations. Her roles have included Shooting Stars 4-H Club president, vice-president and secretary; Greene County 4-H Teen Council vice president; and member of the Missouri Junior Red Angus Advisory Committee. Maya serves on a leadership team at her church, Central Assembly of God and as a volunteer at Convoy of Hope.
Maya has grown up in a family that has been active in fostering children for the last 10 years.
After attending college and studying agriculture, Maya’s goal is to own a Red Angus ranch that she can use as an outreach for foster children.