Hidalgo County student wins TFB Free Enterprise Speech Contest
(WACO, Texas)—A high school junior from Hidalgo County took first place and a $6,000 scholarship as winner of the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Free Enterprise Speech Contest.
Cooper Ford, son of Cleve and Miriam Ford of Weslaco, topped 12 other speakers from across Texas in the annual contest.
At Weslaco High School, Ford is a member of the National Honor Society and Weslaco FFA Chapter, where he serves as an officer and competes in speaking events. He is also a member of the Texas 4-H Council. Ford exhibits market steers and market and breeding swine at local and major livestock shows through 4-H and FFA.
Ford leads community service efforts at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.
He plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in agricultural business or agricultural economics.
Runner-up in the competition and winner of a $3,000 scholarship was Morgan McKinzie, a high school senior from Stephenville. She is the daughter of Marty and Kelli McKinzie.
At Stephenville High School, she is involved in several organizations, including the National Honor Society, Workforce in Technology and serves as the Student Council vice president. She is also an active member of Stephenville FFA, where she participates in speaking contests, meats judging, Agriscience Fair, chapter conducting contests and is the Area IV vice president.
McKinzie also assists with community activities, visits nursing homes and works in the concession stands.
She plans to attend Texas A&M University or Texas Tech University and major in animal science.
Four other finalists and winners of $2,000 scholarships were Bethany Martinek of Grayson County, Carter Neil of Carson County, Elijah Russell of Cherokee County and Cole Wheeler of Lampasas County.
The winner, runner-up and four finalists will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to visit elected officials, observe Congress in session and visit historical sites.
Other contestants and winners of $1,500 scholarships were Kathryn Gwosdz of Dewitt County, Ryan Heitschmidt of Swisher County, Jett Henefey of Medina County, John Dain Copeland of Coke County, Kyndal King of Harrison County, Gabby Eskew of Austin County and Aaron Harmonson of Jack County.
“These students successfully delivered speeches detailing what the free enterprise system means to them and how it benefits our country,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “It’s inspiring to see young people passionate about our economy, our government and our organization.”
To compete in the Free Enterprise Speech Contest, contestants must have attended the 2019 Texas Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Conference.
More details about the contest and other youth opportunities are available online at https://texasfarmbureau.org/youth/youth-opportunities.