Payten Durning of Ozark, Arkansas. Photo by Terry Ropp.
Photo by Terry Ropp

Age: 17

Parents: Nick and Gina Durning

Hometown: Ozark, Ark.

FFA Chapter: Ozark FFA

Advisors: Heidi Gregory and Ben Culver

What is your favorite aspect of agriculture?

“I have been around animals all my life and love knowing everything about them including their history.”

Who is the most influential person in your life?

“My grandpa, Michael Durning, started out poor and was a paperboy. He always worked hard and eventually established a successful farm. Once when we were cutting hay and getting ready to bale, I asked him why he thought we needed so much hay. He said it was not about providing hay for the cattle, but rather providing food for a lot of people who don’t understand what we have to do so they can have a good meal. That idea inspired me to become the best I can be.”

What is your current involvement in agriculture?

“I attended two agricultural classes during the most recent school year. One was agricultural mechanics and included both metalworking and electricity. As a group we made cattle guards and H braces. My other class was veterinary science where we fed and watered the show steers and heifers, as well as our chickens. We also had a big green house where we grew plants for others to buy. As far as what I do at home, I help feed both my dad’s and my grandpa’s cattle on alternating days.”

What made you decide you wanted to be in agriculture?

“In 10th grade I got into a mechanically based class taught by Ben Culver. I always liked fixing things like gates and helping with welding. I saw I could save money and how much being knowledgeable about mechanics could help me in life, so I took more of his classes.”

What is the most important thing you have learned about agriculture?

“From my grandfather and my father, I learned not to be selfish. I want to be good and careful with production animals because I am not the only one going to eat the beef. Other people I’ve never met and who don’t understand the agricultural industry at all are still depending upon me to provide them with food.”


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