Kyla Moore says competitions and FFA made her an advocate for ag
ANDERSON, MO. – To say Kyla Moore was born into agriculture would be an understatement. It was a part of her genetics long before she was a twinkle in her mother’s eye.
She really had no choice about the matter, as her grandpa, Larry Keaton, was a county extension agent in Arkansas.
Born and raised in rural McDonald County, Mo., her mother, Danita Keaton, worked as a chemical rep within in the cattle industry, which added to Kyla’s knowledge base in the world of cattle.
She admits her first memories were riding horseback, sharing the saddle with her mother, out in the pasture or on trail rides. She cannot think of a time there was not some type of livestock around. With cattle playing a big part in her up bringing, it stands to reason bottle feeding calves would be a normal chore for a little girl.
“I used to dress myself when I was little and my mom has pictures of me bottle feeding calves in my nightgown with my muck boots on or a jean skirt with a fedora hat,” Kyla said.
When she was 5, she began showing a little cross bred bucket calf in 4–H at the county fair and finally by age 8, graduated to bigger cattle. Her first big heifer was a Charolais/Angus cross named Sassy. Sassy went on to earn Kyla a reserve supreme heifer title.
Her mother transitioned over to becoming an insurance agent and since her little brother, Keaton Moore, had no desire to show cattle, Kyla began to tag around with her uncle, Vance Keaton, who runs a registered Angus ranch in McDonald County. His children were already competing at regional and state fairs, as well as larger livestock shows. This proved to be a good introduction for Kyla to watch seasoned competitors in the ring.
Vance began to push her just a little more to do other competitions besides just showing. One competition was extemporaneous public speaking, which challenges the entrant to develop a speech on any topic given to them by the judges in a 30-minute time frame.
“That year I went to Angus Junior Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa,” Kyla continued. “Although, I didn’t win big, but it introduced to me so many new things and I was hooked on competitive speech.”
Her first speech at the national level was difficult, but Kayla said the challenge opened doors that would later shape her path and spurred her on to try more competitions outside her comfort zone.
“Even though it was stressful to speak at the state fair level, I gained confidence to speak to anyone on just about any topic in the cattle industry,” Kyla recalled.
When she turned 14, Kayla decided to show a Simmental heifer purchased from another breeder and fell in love with the breed.
“That year was probably my most favorite because I got to go to the Simmental Junior Nationals,” Kyla continued. “In that competition you are required to do five separate events to show. I did cattle judging, took a genetics quiz, a cattlemen’s quiz, extemporaneous speeches and a sales talk.”
She placed in the top 20 in extemporaneous speech that year and she credited the experience with solidifying her desire to learn more about the cattle industry, especially in genetics and sales.
By her freshman year, she set goals that would help shape her adulthood. And things really began to kick into gear for her as more opportunities were available in high school. She became involved in Student Council, varsity golf and track, and FFA.
In 2019, she traveled to regionals and showed a spring heifer and a fall heifer, placing in the top 15 in extemporaneous speeches and top 20 in genetics and sales talk.
She then went on to the Simmental Junior Nationals, held in Louisville, Ky., at Churchill Downs.
Kyla would place in the top 10 for extemporaneous speeches and in the Top 20 in cattle judging, genetics, and sales.
“I have a harder time with the cattle judging because I think they are all pretty,” Kyla states with a smile.
Going into her junior year of high school, she and her mom have logged many miles, but each mile taken gives her the ability to face adulthood with a plan.
Despite her years working with and showing cattle, she realizes that she may need to readjust her focus.
“I don’t want to ever leave the agriculture arena because I am a big advocate for agriculture and thanks to FFA and other competitions, I have been exposed to various aspects of agriculture,” Kyla said.
With the extensive family background in agriculture and her uncle’s job in the chicken industry, Kyla has shifted her career sights to a little-known sector – chicken veterinarian. Not many students put their emphasis in veterinary medicine on poultry, which allows for the possibility of contracting with multiple facilities across the nation.
As she enters her final years of high school, she has set her sights on some of the top ag colleges in the region: University of Arkansas or Missouri State, then transfer to one of the top veterinarian colleges, such as: Kansas State, University of Missouri or Louisiana State University.